What does it mean to inhabit?
In a detached apartment, modern man 'dwells poetically.' By that we understand that his 'inhabiting' is in some way his creative work. ...Now let us consider for a moment the space of work. Such a space is not itself a thing or material 'object.' It is a floating 'medium,' a simple abstraction, where the most individualized and singular aspects of our work reach broader and more general levels of public knowledge; and it is here - the socialization of individual space and the simultaneous individualization of social space - that "living research" has lessons to learn from studying it.
Our situation - in both practice and thinking - poses a question at once analogous and contrary to discursive structures that privilege public research and alternative models of production.
The question, 'What does it mean to inhabit?' remains open.
1. As we were saying, the contrast between 'the pavillon habitat' and housing estates is striking. Let us spell out some aspects of this contrast. In a detached house, modern man 'dwells poetically'. By that we understand that his 'inhabiting' is in some way his creative work. The space in which he is able to organize it relate to his own taste and [malleable] patterns. It lends itself to rearrangement. ...Space in a detached house allows the group and its individual members to appropriate to some extent the conditions of their own existence. They can alter, add or subtract and superimpose their own ideas (organization) on what is provided.
2. We can distinguish:
A.) Appropriation of space in the pavillon — that is, the socialization of individual space and the simultaneous individualization of social space — tends to be elemental (though subject to a cultural system). Here, the most individualized and singular aspects of pavillon existence reaches broader and more general levels; and it is here that architecture and planning have lessons to learn from studying it. The question, 'What does it mean to inhabit?' remains open.
3. We refer to the present conditions of dwelling as our starting-point - thinking of 'dwelling' as a form of 'building'. (p.122)
4. The Library Project was initiated by Front Desk Apparatus to focus on editorial creation, independent publications and the position of writing and design in contemporary practice. The Library Project aims to build upon Front Desk Apparatus's founding premise by using the office context as a framework that acknowledges, uncovers and excavates the library's potential to generate concrete possibilities in the form of "living" research and knowledge production. Here, the vocabulary of the work environment offers itself as a public site for reframing a practice of display, distribution, critical inquiry and the archive form to spatially facilitate and symbolize the contingent relationships - in the private sphere - that have the potential to reach broader and more general levels of public knowledge, collaborative work, negotiation and hospitality.
* ('Preface' in Henri Raymond, Marie-Genevieve Raymond, Nicole Haumont and M. Coornaert, L'Habitat pavillonnaire (Paris: Editions du CRU [Centre de recherche d'urbanisme], 1966), pp. 3-13, 14-23; reprinted as 'Introduction a l'etude de l'habitat pavillonnaire' in Du Rural a l'urbain, 3e edn (Paris: Anthropos, 2001), pp. 159-70, 171-80)
** All notes except "note 4" taken directly from Henri Lefebvre's 'Preface'.
Bouvard and Pecuchet's Invented Desk For Copying
The Library Project at Front Desk Apparatus is pleased to announce 'What does it mean to inhabit?' an ongoing study that addresses and responds to Henri Lefebvre's short essay Preface to the Study of the Habitat of the 'Pavillon'*. The project coincides with a group exhibition presented by Balice Hertling & Lewis that will inhabit the Front Desk Apparatus project space throughout March. The study invites artists and critics to appropriate the resources of the project environment as a subject for public research and proceeds with an awareness of the contradictory terms (building, making, arrangement, dwelling, etc.) that inform its conduct and vocabulary.
Project 1 will feature the work of Gareth Long and adopts his projects Bouvard and Pecuchet's Invented Desk For Copying and "Who Invented the Desk?" as a starting point for a public talk and workshop.
"Who Invented the Desk?" is an ongoing text and book project that investigates the current location of work. It uses the desk as a cipher to the recent movements from studio to study - artisan to administrator - to touch on post-studio practice, globalization, leisure and the location of production. New and edited versions of the text will follow the workshop, with additional authors, edited and changed texts, showing the 'work-in-progress' nature of the book.
If there is a shift in the current artistic sensibility -- away from what is strictly produced to the how and potential of production (how things might be produced), then the site of production is always in question. And as such, an artist, like a knowledge worker or another producer of culture has that unique ability to turn any flat surface into a desk.
- The desk is both never invented and perpetually invented
- There is no singular moment of invention for the desk.
Gareth Long & Liam Gillick
Bouvard and Pecuchet's Invented Desk For Copying, 2007-2009
The Front Desk Apparatus Library
Front Desk Apparatus
54 King Street, Parlor Floor
New York, NY 10014
+1 212 300 3661 / info
Thursday, Friday & Saturday 12-6 PM
Joana Meroz/Andrea Bandoni/Saron Paz
Platform for Pedagogy
Dave Hullfish Bailey
Florian Conradi/Michelle Christensen
"To develop a thought's meaning, we need only to determine the conduct it is fitted to produce. That conduct is, for us, its sole significance. And the tangible fact at the root of all thought-distinctions is that not one of them is so fine as to consist in anything but a possible difference of practice."
- William James
PRE-SPECIFICS: ACCESS X! builds upon an interest in recent design practices that respond to and adopt the exhibition form as a model for critical inquiry and knowledge production. With reference to Swiss researcher Vera Buhlmann, the project takes up the notion of Pre-Specifics to address the enlarged sphere of influence that design has achieved in various activities of research, conceptualization and criticality. Here, the very notion of "design" helps to frame and prioritize a set of working conditions that allow the project's stages of production to become visible. We also want to test the use-value of educational formats, methods, models and processes that have become increasingly pervasive within curatorial and design practice. This allows us to adopt the resources provided by the art context to re-think how the status of "knowledge spaces" within it can help to situate and contextualize the growing emphasis on "research" and "knowledge production" in graphic design and contemporary art discourse.
By adhering to these two objectives, we asked designers and contemporary artists to contribute proposals that would concretely engage and clarify the exhibitional vocabulary or "conduct" PRE-SPECIFICS is "fitted to produce." As a consequence, the project concerns itself with the pragmatic implications of its own development to bring attention to and reflect upon the participants' constitutive modes of making and doing and the "pre-specific" constraints informing their practice within the art context.
This process offers insight into recent graphic work that places greater emphasis on "praxis," where "the artificial borders" between theory and practice, material labor and immaterial labor are questioned and expanded. Perhaps most urgent here, is the way design encourages the overlap or imbrication of these distinct modes of production while introducing a spatial vocabulary that positions itself as a "form of thinking." The related issue of how the organization of "praxis" in the art context relates to PRE-SPECIFICS is crucial for understanding how graphic design negotiates multiple contexts for distributing ideas that arise from within its own practice and inquiry.
In this sense, PRE-SPECIFICS recalls Jean-Francois Lyotard's understanding of curatorial practice as a way to materialize thinking in an exhibition - not just as an illustration of a pre-conceived idea, but the way an exhibition frames the material conditions it requires to become thinkable. The reason for this does not require the practice in question to be about exhibitions, but rather that it thinks itself spatially - because its own conceptual articulation would necessitate a certain spacing that occurs in the context of an exhibition.
Lyotard's exhibtional paradigm for Les Immateriaux also intended to address the relationship between the growing precarity in knowledge-based institutions and their corresponding forms of immateriality. Similarly, PRE-SPECIFICS prioritizes an inquiry into the link between a general transformation of economic production in immaterial products and the "ubiquity of design," asserting its vocabulary within a prevailing set of post-Fordist working conditions. Here, the "inter-contextuality" of design practices make it possible for designers to shift between positions and professions with ease by positioning themselves in new contexts and collaborations inside and outside the art world. This pragmatic constitutes the innumerable ways by which designers re-appropriate the space organized by techniques of immaterial labor to negotiate an expanded field of practice. It also poses questions at once analogous and contrary to discursive structures by means of various, sometimes conflicting "stances." By making these stances the focus of PRE-SPECIFICS, the exhibition offers a "discursive formation" of multiple perspectives that collectively map out and display a particular discursive practice. Here, we can move the discourse away from a reflection on capitalist modes of production to channel the poetic potentials of non-knowledge or "X."
In following with Buhlmann's text, we take "X" to signify the project's two-fold plan and actualization. Our objectives are clearly defined:
1. to engage X
2. to situate X in practice
In this regard, we offer a curatorial strategy that aligns itself with Irit Rogoff's 2006 "Academy" for Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. With "Academy," access given to cultural practitioners was not "aimed at producing institutional critique or exposing the true realities of the institution. Instead, it aimed at eliciting the unseen and unmarked possibilities that already exist within these spaces." Here, any experience follows an interplay of internal and objective conditions, which taken together, or in their interaction, form what John Dewey might describe as a "situated" form of pedagogy or, later, what Henri Lefebvre might call a "texture" or archi-texture, to describe a "spatial economy" or context where the surrounding environment or "environing conditions" become socially reinforced. Here, practice names the point of convergence where thought tends towards realization within co-ordinates of a particular time and place, which, perhaps intentionally, runs the risk of overemphasizing the position of "institutionality" within these practices.
But as Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt have recently asserted, institutions "persist longer than individuals, they embody information and relationships in a durable structure, they reach farther than the sum of their parts, they may be pointed towards altruistic ends that are impossible to realize in an individual arrangement and not sustainable in a commercial context." So, in a way, PRE-SPECIFICS is positing an affirmative discourse that arises between the contributors and the institutions that facilitate these exchanges. Here, the exhibition does not comment on the social relations between designers, per se, but emphasizes the CONTEXT where the atomized power of these relationships become operative -- situating "the object OF design" against the "context FOR design." In this way, PRE-SPECIFICS not only determines the conditions of relationships between participants but also concretely symbolizes and informs the vocabulary of those relationships.
Having set the "pre-specific" conditions, all we can do is take the first step toward developing such relationships and step aside.
Curated by: Freek Lomme and Michael Capio
5611 VB Eindhoven
October 23 - 31, 2010
Pre-Specifics: Access X!
Design: Eric de Haas
Joana Meroz/Andrea Bandoni/Saron Paz
Platform for Pedagogy
Dave Hullfish Bailey
Florian Conradi/Michelle Christensen
A two-phase project conducted via Onomatopee for Röda Sten Kulturförening, Goteborg and Onomatopee, Eindhoven, with assistance from Konstfack University, Stockholm, Vera Buhlmann and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.
PRE-SPECIFICS: ACCESS X! targets and progressively clarifies stances and design strategies that respond to and adopt the exhibition form as a model for critical inquiry and knowledge production. Taking its title and pronouncing its setting from Vera Buhlmann's book "Pre-Specifics," the project takes up the positioning of variable "X" to stand for the enlarged sphere of influence that design has achieved via various activities of research, conceptualization and criticality. As such, PRE-SPECIFICS aims to map, define and display concrete, "pre-specific" constraints, stances and strategies to develop an understanding and meaning of "X" by determining the "conduct or context it is fitted to produce." Here, the tangible aspects of the exhibition's development will consist in bringing attention to and reflecting upon the negotiated differences between the participants' design practices and production.
To sum up: objectives for the design strategies brought about:
1. to engage X
2. to situate X in practice
Curated by: Freek Lomme and Michael Capio
Röda Sten Kulturförening
414 51 Goteborg, Sweden
031-12 08 16
+46(0)31-12 08 16
5611 VB Eindhoven
Sept 4 - Oct 31, 2010
Designed by Metahaven
The Front Desk Apparatus Library
Objective: To establish the Front Desk Apparatus library and publishing platform as an onsite archive for public research and knowledge production.
Front Desk Apparatus is pleased to announce an initiative that focuses on editorial creation, independent publications and the position of writing and design in contemporary practice. The library aims to build upon Front Desk Apparatus's founding premise by using the office context as a framework that acknowledges, uncovers and excavates the library's potential to generate concrete possibilities in the form of "living research" and knowledge production. Here, the vocabulary of the work environment offers itself as a public site for reframing a practice of display, distribution, critical inquiry and the archive form to spatially facilitate and symbolize the contingent relationships - in the private sphere - that have the potential to reach broader and more general levels of public knowledge, collaborative work, negotiation and hospitality.
Hospitality is a particularly useful concept for the project, as it deliberately evokes SR Ranganathan's faceted classification system to denote the library's "ability to accommodate and remain flexible to new forms, ideas, and elements within its established structure." Moreover, we propose The Library Project as a model for thinking about the relationship between exhibition strategies and the organization of library functions to address the "potentiality of thought in relation to the creation of new forms and areas of knowledge." In other words, the Front Desk Apparatus Library offers itself as an attempt to examine not library functions, per se, but exhibitional formations that reconsider the art context as a display medium or model for newly formed practices that arise from Front Desk Apparatus's established and emerging structure.
Architecturally, the onsite set up will be diversified with respect to function - highly integrated, modular and malleable. The emphasis on unifunctionality, mobility, hierarchical labeling and adaptability will have a strictly defined role that corresponds to the various alternative and contingent functions of the space. These ultimately refer to the distinct functionalism of the project and its production-based trajectory. As with Baudrillard's description of "private space" in SYSTEM OF OBJECTS, The Library Project will "internalize its own particular function" as a work space and art context with respect to research and knowledge production by reinforcing the library's arrangement - and its subsequent social utility and structure - at the level of practice. Offsite manifestations of The Library Project will diversely take on the role of object-based arrangements, decor and pedagogical displays in private, pubic and commercial contexts.
The Front Desk Apparatus Library offers itself as a platform for mutual exchange rather than a commensal distributor of Front Desk Apparatus programming. The encompassing system encourages multiple prerogatives of action, overlap, multiplicity, mixed ascendancy and divergent but co-existent patterns of participation and display with the common objective to further research and promote new exhibitional strategies and practices in private and public space.
Today I Made Nothing
Today I Made Nothing is an exhibition in two parts, the second installment opening at Front Desk Apparatus in September. Additionally, the exhibition is accompanied by the first phase of The Library Project, presented at Elizabeth Dee by Front Desk Apparatus, an initiative that focuses on editorial creation, independent publications and the position of writing and design in contemporary practice. In a filing cabinet in the gallery's office space, a selection of readings pertaining to the exhibition, aims to employ the office context as a framework that acknowledges, uncovers and excavates the library's potential to generate concrete possibilities in the form of "living" research and knowledge production.
Elizabeth Dee Gallery
545 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011-2818
Front Desk Apparatus
54 King Street, Parlor Floor
New York, NY 10014
+1 917 475 1562
July 27 - Nov 06, 2010
Research Construction Kit
For Independent, we produced a small pamphlet surveying and reassembling content from Farimani's online forum. The short bound edition organizes Farimani's online content into a formalist poem, highlighting the forum's emphasis on research, theory and praxis. The question, 'What does it mean to research?' remains open. ... INDEPENDENT, a hybrid model and temporary exhibition forum, will take place at the former X Initiative and former Dia Center for the Arts at 548 West 22nd Street in New York March 4 - 7, 2010, and will be open to the public free of charge: Thursday from 4PM to 9PM, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 8pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm.
INDEPENDENT was conceived by Elizabeth Dee, New York gallerist and founder of X Initiative, and gallerist Darren Flook, from Hotel, London. Part consortium, part collective, INDEPENDENT lies somewhere between a collective exhibition and a reexamination of the art fair model, reflecting the changing attitudes and growing challenges for artists, galleries, curators and collectors. The weeklong program will host presentations and installations by highly regarded international figures and has been developed with creative advisors, Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services, New York and Matthew Higgs, Director of the nonprofit White Columns, New York.
548 W 22nd St
New York, NY 10011
March 04 - 07, 2010
Henrik Plenge Jakobsen
Carl Michael von Hausswolff
INTERFERENCE: Fields for Listening and Praxis is a group exhibition that aims to bring together practitioners and collectives who adopt sound-based practices as an interventionary tool for focusing on sonic interferences in public environments and social space, while providing a platform for critical discussion within the installation environment with recordings, screenings, performance, printed materials and a micro-conference scheduled later this year. The exhibition takes its subtitle from French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu who used the term 'fields' to describe groups of interrelated social actors that reflect objectified forms of economic interest. For many sound artists this has become a guiding principle for work that introduces field recordings or ambient sounds into institutional spaces, which become instrumental for providing a context that places sound within a broader set of questions about public and private space, mediation, commercial space and second nature. Our intention is to open a dialogue between architectural practices and sound-based initiatives to foreground sound's inherent functionalism within the built environment.
Most urgent here are artistic practices that address the institutional space and its claim of 'neutrality' in an effort to bring attention to its commercial equivalent in retail space - repurposing the conventional function of the installation environment for onsite production. We are particularly interested in artistic practices that engage with background music and the production of 'atmosphere' in public spaces and the gallery environment for observing the conflated or smoothed out relationship between the two. This means that it becomes crucial to critically approach the relationship between sound and public space to trace its impact on human behavior, modes of listening and social relations.
The Studio, Stockholm
by Carl Michael von Hausswolff
Jan 28 - Feb 21, 2010
Michael Capio & Tina Hanssen
Settings for Lived Praxis
Nickel van Duijvenboden
For Settings for Lived Praxis, curator Michael Capio is working under the notion of "micro-exhibition," which takes the function of display as a medium for exploring the conflation of artistic and curatorial initiatives. While imposing limited time constraints on the curatorial process, the micro-exhibition concept introduces a working model for observing the relationship between interdisciplinary projects, sound and design in the installation environment.
Accordingly, the time frame for Settings will encompass an evening-length interval, which will include performances by Michael Capio, an in-situ sound performance by Keiko Uenishi [o.blaat], late night DJ set, texts, screenings and projections.
108 Starr Street
New York, NY 11237
May 15, 2009
A Special Project for the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art
Alina and Jeff Bliumis
Yarisal and Kublitz
The contemporary moment is rife with "posts": Post-Cold War, post-Communist, post 9-11, post-modern, post-colonial, post-national... Blogs embody decentralized communities of identity-shifting "post-ers" who together determine the parameters of everything from what's hip to the next revolution, offering a faux-reality of democratic access and collectivist practice. But what is left to us when we're offline? How do we come to terms with the reality of our decidedly non-ideal or falsely idealized cultural, social, political, and even material positions?
Burdened by the history of opposition between socialist and so-called "free"-market democratic political and economic models, we have arrived at a place where the disappointed hopes of both systems are obvious, and the idea of reconciling them fraught with land mines, both real and intellectual. Failed utopia has given way to a surreal existence where displacement from accustomed social roles, as well as homes, work spaces, and communities leads to improvised choices made within unexpected parameters. Such choices can, in the words of the Cuban artist Alexandre Arrechea, "become a definitive weapon," in resisting oppression and repression.
Artists respond to this circumstance in varied ways, some addressing the precariousness of life by assembling their sculptures from random objects that teeter, threatening to overbalance and fall, while others make haphazard constructions out of detritus and actual garbage. Some improvise while installing, allowing conditions to dictate the final form of their work, just as we constantly readjust strategies for managing our affairs. Finally, there are those who choose to indicate life's absurdity by making works that turn a surreal eye to seemingly ordinary situations, pointing out the awkward and peculiar in the collective unconscious that determines our definition of the everyday. Actively resisting outworn paradigms, each seeks to create an independent map for survival, readjusting his or her stance in order not to stumble over life's uncertain and ever-shifting footing. Perhaps in their strategies and works, we may find new solutions to our own collective predicaments.
Gallery on Solyanka, Moscow
Sept 25 - Oct 18, 2009
Elizabeth M. Grady
Farimani Audio Series & Radio
La Monte Young
Carl Michael von Hausswolff
3 Vector Model, part 1 (1973) Carl Andre
Forough Farrokhzad Fathe Bagh
Concret Ph (1958) Iannis Xenakis
Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in B minor, L 449 pf. Maria Tipo
Francis Poulenc Nocturne No.1 In C Major
Pierre Schaeffer | Etude Aux Chemins De Fer
Morton Feldman | Projection 1
J.S. Bach Sarabande and Gavotte, 5. French Suite pf. Glenn Gould
Tristan Perich Intersticials
Arnold Schoenberg pf. Glenn Gould | Klavierstucke op11/1
Alexander Scriabin | Prelude D Flat Major, Op. 11, No. 15
Zbynek Baladran / Exhibition Statement, essay
Louis Zukofsky Anew 12, Homemade Tape, November 3, 1960
Pavel Lisitsian Core N'grato
Karlheinz Stockhausen Retrograde version: High C
Guy Debord Critique de la separation, fragment
Louis Zukofsky Anew 26, Homemade Tape, November 3, 1960
Alexander Scriabin Piano Concerto in F Sharp Minor, Op. 20 II. Andante
Maurice Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major
Pierre Schaeffer Symphonie pour un homme seul - 1. Prosopopee I
Alfred Schnittke Klingende Buchstaben for solo cello (1988)
Louis Zukofsky Anew 29, Homemade Tape, November 3, 1960
Enrico Caruso | Una Furtiva Lagrima
Nickel van Duijvenboden / Indirect Speech [Plateau], 2009
Olivia Block | Live at Music Gallery, Toronto
Samuel Beckett | Company IX / X
JS Bach, pf. Glenn Gould | Sinfonia No. 2 In C Minor, BWV 788
Earle Brown, Berlin Monologue: Remarks on December 1952
György Kurtág Kafka-Fragmente, Op. 24 IIIa. Virág az ember (…ölelkezö hangok)
Alexander Scriabin Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor ("Etats d'âme"), Op. 23 III Andante
Frédéric François Chopin / Nocturne Opus 27 No. 1 pf. Béla Bartók
FARIMANI is an internationally distributed artist publication that seeks to arrive at an awareness of editorial art practice in relation to other curatorial models of production. Each issue is one book in the process of becoming another, so that, by documenting its own development, FARIMANI simultaneously reflects the new, formal and conceptual possibilities of authorship established between its editors and contributors. These possibilities are articulated within the critical content of the printed space, and enacted by the performative space FARIMANI establishes outside itself.
Farimani's Audio Series is curated by its editors, artists, musicians and theorists from around the world. Each program consists of five sound/music pieces titled collectively by the respective curator and archived.
Michael Capio & Amir Mogharabi
Front Desk Apparatus
In a detached apartment, modern man 'dwells poetically.' By this we understand that his 'inhabiting' is in some way his creative work. ...Now let us consider for a moment the space of work. Such a space is not itself a thing or material 'object.' It is a floating 'medium,' a simple abstraction, where the most individualized and singular aspects of our labor reach broader and more general levels of public knowledge; and it is here - in the socialization of individual space and the simultaneous individualization of social space - that "living research" has lessons to learn from studying it.
Our situation - in both practice and thought - poses a question at once analogous and contrary to discursive structures that privilege public research and alternative models of production.
The question, 'What does it mean to inhabit?' remains open.
Acting as a fabricated situation, Front Desk Apparatus presents the re-arrangement of a particular construct. The interiority of the space is dependent upon props disrupting its linear composition. At the same time, this composition links paradoxically to the weathered exteriority of its shell. What should function as a residential dwelling does not. Rather, the primary application is that of an office; an office for work and the transmission of information and material.
The props occupying the space perform real functions associated with production, while others remain inert, lifeless objects; facsimiles of what one would find in the home, the gallery viewing room, the institutional lobby, or a furniture showroom.
All of which, we are not opposed to acting as a stand-in.
In a similar fashion to Marcel Broodthaers' Decors (1974-76), the apparatus rejects the formalization of artistic contexts, by way of domestication - producing the evacuated air of an austerely arranged film set, created out of a pre-existing condition, a working tableau that does not use neutrality as a departure point.
Situated in the company of a work environment, the art intervention does not exist in isolation. Rather, the way it is perceived and interpreted depends upon the larger frame in which it is seen.
Ambiguity, paradox and contradiction are keywords associated with the apparatus.
We are simultaneously disinterested in conforming to conventional models, but also avoid acting in opposition to them. The intent is not to act as an "original," but to experience an equivocal condition of the fetishized object in space. Resisting the seduction of the white cube, the counter-site supports a non-neutralized interiority, and the synthesization of simulated contexts.
The working method of the apparatus is open, flexible and respondent to the unexpected. The apparatus is in constant motion regardless of physical presence. Interventions are spontaneous, in irregular secession, and adapt to the inherently ongoing processes of space, and its negation.
218 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
+1 212 300 3661 / info
Thursday, Friday & Saturday 12-6 PM
Introduction to Modernity: Twelve Preludes / Eleventh Prelude / To Kostas Axelos
September 1959-May, Henri Lefebvre
Sometimes the use of discourse to heighten awareness of conflicts does not help to supersede them, but simply makes them worse. The solution is to be found in praxis. If techniques were improved and better adapted to practical use - that is, to praxis - then perhaps the conditions for spontaneous vitality could be reconstituted. However there is every indication that before a possible unity can be rediscovered, the disjunction between the self and itself, as well as the disjunction between nature and anti-nature, will have to be lived through... Modernity is doomed to explore and to live through abstraction. ...Abstraction perceived as something concrete, anti-nature and a growing nostalgia for nature which has somehow been mislaid - such is the conflict lived out by "modern" man.
How strange the contradiction is between the modern "reprivatization" of everyday life, and the "globalization" which is being thrust into the very heart of private life by mass media. On one side of the picture the horizon shrinks, with everything turned back on the family and the self. Turn the picture, and we see a limitless expanse where the idea of the "world" already implies its supersession. But this "picture" cannot be summed simply as something with two contradicting sides. It is misleading to think that we can look at one side, then the other. The crucial thing is to seize the dramatic and conflictual interpretation of each "side" of the picture. And the picture is just a metaphor for a technical operation, itself abstract, by which the movement from one to other can be grasped.
There is no greater alienation than the alienation which cannot speak its name.
This generalized and disjointed determination has to make do with the transformation and abstract transposition of an everyday life which has itself been reduced to a "private" abstraction: verbalism, rhetoric, moralism and aesthetics. Whatever we can formulate as thought has been made into a reality "for us" by praxis, and it is therefore not the action of some kind of independent and externalized consciousness which internalizes it; it has been transformed into consciousness by praxis and the movement of praxis.
Falke Pisano, Figures of Speech
An “artist-generated” structure is not public as a whole, but parts are made visible in constructed public moments, pertaining to specific instances of the artist’s choice. Moreover, it can be said that each moment of communication embodies an entrance, and as such, it can prompt the addressed party in the communication to an engagement that activates a larger part of this structure. …Part of the communication is the making of a divide between what is kept private and what is made public. Transparency does not necessarily have a relation to performativity and some of the questions that [we] ask ourselves at the moment relate to this:
The question of effectivity: How does something (a work, a speech-act etc) function in a public space? …To what extent can [we] construct (make visible) the conditions of production as a way of creating meaning and to what extent are they predetermined? …1. Each moment of communication falls into different structures. These structures are related to the conditions of production and reception. Some are predetermined and some are constructed by the choices the artist makes concerning his or her practice and production. 2. The making public and the conditions in which something is made public are part of both artistic practice and artistic production. (That what is made public is necessarily production – or …?)
Language is “without end product.” And this is so, because utterance is connected (directly or indirectly) to the presence of others. Language presupposes and, at the same time, institutes once again the “publicly organized space” which Arendt speaks about. (Virno)
- Falke Pisano
Practice in the Art Museum, 2001, Extracted from Control Magazine Issue 16, 2001
Within the institutional reality in which contemporary art predominately currently exists, a realm of art museums, art journals, art schools, art collectors etc., there is still an innate aversion to the agencing of practices in art that are founded on the complexities of social exchange. Thus the ‘art museum’ is represented as a context that defines a social environment that from the outside is to be looked up to as a symbol of transmissional authority, and from the inside operates as a modus operandi for society’s institutions that is increasingly at odds with the social processes of exchange that are actually shaping modern daily life.
It is in other areas of art activity, in other social environments in which art exists such as in educational art, community art, psychiatric art, that models of exchange in communication between people and the rich complexity that they generate are seen as valued practice. …But within the realm of the institutional art world these more mutualistic social practices in art are at best marginalised, if not excluded altogether as they are deemed to undermine the authoritative criteria of authorship and of ownership based on possession. And this is the crux of the problem for within these social practices there is an implicit divestment of authorship, and the emphasis on art practice being a process-based experience, a process in time, not contained in an immortalised object. But the point I wish to emphasise is that the way in which we approach an institutionalised space is all dependent on our starting point, ie. the physical environment may be beyond our capabilities to rebuild as we desire, but what we represent within it, how we use that space, can enable our psychological approach to change and embrace quite divergent ideologies and perceptions. For the space in reality is relative to how we enter it, what perceptual framework we bring to bear on the experience.
At the micro level, procedures of everyday creativity act on and redistribute a discursive space, raising a new and different set of problems. Once again, these strategies privilege a productive apparatus that short-circuits institutional directions. As such, the grid of “praxis” is everywhere becoming clearer and more extensive, where it is all the more urgent to discover how an entire society resists being reduced to it. Popular procedures manipulate the mechanisms of “practice” and conform to them only in order to evade them, and finally, what “ways of operating” form the counterpart, on the viewer’s side, of the mute processes that organize the establishment of socioeconomic order.
These “ways of operating” constitute the innumerable practices by which artists re-appropriate the space organized by techniques of sociocultural production. They pose questions at once analogous and contrary to discursive structures and deflect their functioning by means of a multitude of “tactics.” These articulate the details of everyday life; the clandestine forms taken by the dispersed, tactical, and make-shift creativity of groups or individuals already engaged in acts of “praxis.”
It may be supposed that these operations—multiform and fragmentary, relative to situations and details, insinuated into and concealed within devices whose mode of usage they constitute, and thus lacking their own ideologies or institutions—conform to certain rules. In other words, there must be a logic of these practices. We are thus confronted once again by the ancient problem: What is an art or “way of making”? From the Greeks to Durkheim, a long tradition has sought to describe with precision the complex (and not at all simple or “impoverished”) rules that could account for these operations.’ From this point of view, “popular culture,” as well as a whole literature called “popular,”‘ take on a different aspect: they present themselves essentially as “arts of making” this or that, i.e., as combinatory or utilizing modes of consumption. These practices bring into play a “popular” ratio, a way of thinking invested in a way of acting, an art of combination which cannot be dissociated from an art of using. In order to grasp the formal structure of these practices, I have carried out two sorts of investigations. The first, more descriptive in nature, has concerned certain ways of making that were selected according to their value for the strategy of the analysis, and with a view to obtaining fairly differentiated variants: readers’ practices, practices related to urban spaces, utilizations of everyday rituals, re-uses and functions of the memory through the “authorities” that make possible (or permit) every-day practices, etc. In addition, two related investigations have tried to trace the intricate forms of the operations proper to the recompositon of a space (the Croix-Rousse quarter in Lyons) by familial practices, on the one hand, and on the other, to the tactics of the art of doing and making, which simultaneously organizes a network of relations, poetic ways of “making do,” and a re-use of marketing structures.’
Shifting centers of interest and changing problematics
[We] regard facts not as simple, une-quivocal truths but as complex things, assemblages of meanings, opinions, theories and actions that would have to be acknowledged for their ability to separate and divide as much as for their ability to form common platforms for seemingly inevitable decisions. [Dingpolitik] – Heidegger recalled that the term Ding originally referred to a form of archaic assembly, and, recently, Bruno Latour has latched onto this genealogy to redefine “things” in terms of “matters of concern” rather than “matters of fact,” as quasi-objects and quasi-subjects that fall between the two poles of this dichotomy. (Lütticken) If this doesn’t sound too contradictory, Latour has nicely framed the notion of “construction” under the rubric of “things,” which in old English and German denotes a space for negotiation, shifting centers of interest and problematics. a.) The method for determining the function, organization and “construction” of space inside a given social group comprises one of the most visible modalities of collective and individual practice — “The handling of space is one of the means to this end, and it is hardly astonishing that the [artist/curator] should be tempted to follow in reverse the route from space to the social, as if the latter had produced the former once and for all. This route is essentially “cultural” since, when it passes through the most visible, the most institutionalized signs, those most recognized by the social order, it simultaneously designates the place of the social order, defined by the same stroke as a common place.” …If [we] describe an objective bound to disciplinary or institutional constraints, like history, curatorial practice or the “book form,” then we do so without the intent to prove or favor one solution over another. Instead, [we] regard these practices in writing and research as a model for critical inquiry and creative exchange, where words (whether they produce a revolution or an aversion of the eyes) concretely bear upon choices and perceptions we make in material life. [Medea-Material]
Spencer’s model of geopolitics is rather sophisticated for his time. He argued that increases in the size of a social aggregate necessitate the elaboration of its structure. Such increases in size are the result of migrations and joining populations. Although Spencer visualized much growth as the result of compounding and recompounding—that is, successive joining together of previously separate social systems he also employed the concept of compounding in another sense: to denote successive stages of internal growth and differentiation of social systems. Throughout Principles of Sociology, a theory of geopolitics and labor is developed. The mechanistic theory of the division of labor implies that the public is the product of necessary causes, and not an end which by itself influences activity. As the social milieu extends, the collective conscience spreads itself over more and more concrete things, and, accordingly, becomes more abstract.
Ludwig Wittgenstein compares, in a famous paragraph of his Philosophical Investigations, our language to an old town: its development can be traces back both to spontaneous generation and, though limited, to conscious planning. Wittgenstein writes of a labyrinth of narrow lanes and places, old and new houses, some of which have annexes from different times; and all this is surrounded by new suburbs where streets are symmetric and houses are uniform – likened to a contemporary metropolis appears as a linguistic formation, an environment that is above all constituted by objectivized discourse, by a pre-constructed code, and by a materialized grammar.
Spencer employed the terms primary, secondary, and tertiary compounding, by which he meant that a society had undergone a qualitative shift in the level of differentiation from a simpler to a more complex form. These stages of compounding marked a new level of differentiation among and within what Spencer saw as the three main axes of differentiation in social systems: (1) the regulatory, in which structures, mobilizing and using power manage relations with the external environment, while engaging in internal coordination of a society’s members; (2) the operative, in which structures meet system needs for production of goods and commodities and for reproduction of system mem bers and their culture; and (3) the distributive, in which structures move materi als, people, and information. [Forms-of-Life] “…In order to get clear about aesthetic words, situations and contexts you have to describe ways of living.” 
“There is a certain sense in which we are wholly involved in metaphor and in which a small construct such as this — local to its context and wholly a one-off — may have some value also as a model, which will then be a model of address, of attitude and approach, rather than one of outcome or consequence. I do not want to strain its credibility further than that. [We] hope however that by veering so alarmingly between the general and the particular, and between the realms of metaphor and practicality, [we] have suggested to you that every technical possibility has a wider equivalence, and a positive need to seek relationships with new and established content.”
The arrangement of information offers a faithful image of social structures. The layout is diversified with respect to function. Information is highly integrated — structured around the tendency to accumulate, fill, close off and position the space of writing, research and display in practice. Each post has a corresponding role to various functions of the arrangement — each referring to a view which conceives of the individual as a balanced assemblage of distinct faculties.
-It comes to this. / this whole aspect of newer problems. (We enter the area of the whole work, / into the FIELD, if you like, where all the values and all / the lines must be managed in their relations to each other.) / It is a matter, finally of OBJECTS. what they are [and] how they are used. / …Every element in an open work / (the line, as well as the image, the sound, the sense) / must be taken up as an object of reality, / creating tensions [in the work] just as totally as those other objects which create what we know as / the world. …It’s hard to see / but think of a sea condensed into a speck / And there are ways frequencies of light, others that may be heard / The one is one sea / the other a second / there are electric stresses across condensers that wear them down until they can stand no strain / Are of no force as unreclaimed as the bottom of the sea / Unless the space the stresses cross be air – that can be patched / Large and small condensers / passing in the one instance frequencies that can be turned to sound / And the other, alternations that can escape so many waves of a speck of sea / or what / or what / or a graph / the curve of a wave beyond all sound / an open circuit where no action like that of the retina / made human by light is recorded otherwise than having taken / a desired path a little way and though infinitely emote to be uncontained forever / This science is then like gathering flowers of the weed / One who works with me calls bird seed / That are tiny and many on one stem / they shed to the touch though on a par with a large flower / that picked will find a base / I see many things at one time the harder the concepts get / or nothing / which is a forever become me or over forty years / I’m like another and another / who has finished learning and has just begun to learn / if I turn pages back a child may as well be stirring with me wondering at the meaning I turn to last / perhaps
The ‘discourse of information’
a structure of
— assembly that is always abstract
The entire modern environment is thus transposed onto the level of a sign system, namely INFORMATION, which is Naturalization, concealment, superimposition, décor and context. …we are surrounded by information whose form comes into play as a false answer to the self-contradictory manner in which the object is experienced.
Peter Sloterdijk & Erik Morse in Frieze Magazine / Issue 127 Nov-Dec 2009
Angel Borrego at Office for Strategic Spaces, 2009
The Spharen project is about the creation of a specific human interior. On a metaphysical level, the meaning of my theory is that human beings never live outside of nature but always create a kind of existential space around themselves. Urban spaces are a humanized environment where nature is completely replaced by a man-made reality. This can provoke a kind of alienation; a sense of loss within cities that you might normally expect to feel in nature...
...I have quoted Benjamin in a very positive way. In some of the most interesting parts of Passagen-Werk, he develops the idea that the bourgeoisie of the 19th century created these artificial interiors. And so when the world became globalized, the bourgeoisie in their salons wanted to absorb everything that is exterior into this interiority. According to Benjamin, the art of the bourgeois form of life was, in the 19th century, the effort to neutralize everything that is exterior and to create an interior that contains the totality. And that is what the arcades are all about. In the arcades, in the passage, the whole world of production - the whole world of trading and exploring - is neutralized and re-presented in the presence of the commodity. The commodities bring these outer totalities into the apartment of the bourgeoisie. Between the ocean and the apartment is the passage; the arcade where all these goods can be bought.
But between the modern shopping mall and the primitive arcade of the early 19th century, there was a step that is very symbolic. This is the London Crystal Palace, which is for me the major symbol of the Postmodern construction of reality. [A cast-iron and glass building designed by Joseph Paxton to house The Great Exhibition of 1851. It included 14,000 exhibitors from around the world, displaying examples of the latest developments in technology.] Because the power of interiorization here reached a kind of historic maximum, I chose it as the title for my most recent book on Postmodern capitalism: The Crystal Palace. In German the title is Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals [the big interior of capitalism]. Weltinnenraum is a word borrowed from Rainer Maria Rilke who, in a poem from 1914, created a vision of a fantastic space in which everything communicates with everything else. In his vision of pantheistic communication, everything is produced by psychic powers, whereas in the Weltinnenraum of capitalism, the communicative force is money.
...An exhibition would seem to require a certain order or arrangement of the pieces in the space, a space which possesses a concrete form. ...We have made the typical dividing walls one normally finds in exhibitions partially disappear, turning them into semitransparent partitions. If we are not sure about our ability to make design metaphorically vanish, at least we try to achieve it in a physical way, turning the walls into a less physical presence, as if in the process of disappearing. This transparency, together with the way of making them, with a clearly differentiated front and back, gives the route through the exhibition a non-subjective, defined and undisputed directional quality that connects it with the irreversibility of the passing of time.
We want the public to fully control the exhibition right from the word go, just as the Angel of History does with the recent past. That said, this control intensifies the attraction one can feel towards the discovery of each piece glimpsed through successive layers. These dissolved walls weigh less, are easily assembled and made with a great economy of means... We would like to think that, while it is impossible to eschew the idea of destructive progress, this succession of planes, silhouettes and shadows achieved by scant means speaks of a less violent version of progress. How can an exhibition be designed to do away with the undesirable imposition of design?
Georges-Louis Leclerc / Comte de Buffon
Histoire naturelle, generale et particuliere (Natural History), 1749-1788
Systems are constructed upon uncertain facts which have never been examined, and which only go to show the penchant men have for wishing to find resemblances between most disparate objects, regularity where variety reigns, and order among those things which they perceive only in a confused manner.
Inaugural Report to the Munich Conference
Internationale Situationniste #3, Dec. 1959
Current cultural conditions, the decomposition of the individual arts, and the impossibility of the renewal or the perpetuation of these arts have produced a creative vacuum that can only be favorable to our undertaking. The disappearance of traditional artistic forms and the progressive organization of social life has brought about a increasing lack of ludic possibilities in everyday life. Not only does our refusal of this state of things drive us to seek out new conditions of play, but it obliges us to reconsider every cultural problem in order to finally arrive at a unified theory of the practice of consciously constructing ludic environments.
The architect, as with other workers in our enterprise, finds himself faced with the necessity of changing his profession: he will no longer construct mere forms but complete environments. What makes the architecture of today so infuriating is its primarily formal preoccupations. Architecture's problem is no longer the opposition between function and expression; this question has been superseded. In all use of existing forms, in the creation of new forms, the architect's principle concern should be the effect that all this has on the behavior and existence of inhabitants. All architecture will therefore be part of a more extended and more complete activity, and finally, like all other arts, architecture will move toward its own disappearance, beneficial to this unitary activity.
To this end, we have come to an agreement on the founding in Amsterdam of a Bureau of Investigation for a Unitary Urbanism, with the task of the realization of teamwork and the study of practical solutions. This work must be severely distinguished from teamwork as it exists today between individual architects; for us, collective creation is not a simple unity, but an infinite quantity of variable elements. The Bureau of Investigation for a Unitary Urbanism must be the first real step in our elaborate projects, which, at the same time as completely illustrating our ideas, should constitute the micro-elements of what unitary urbanism will become.
For many a year the gypsies who stopped awhile in the little Piedmontese town of Alba were in the habit of camping beneath the roof that, once a week, on Saturday, housed the livestock market. There they lit their fires, hung their tents from the pillars to protect or isolate themselves, improvised shelters with the aid of boxes and planks left behind by the traders. The need to clean up the market place every time the Zingari passed through had led the town council to forbid them access. In compensation, they were assigned a bit of grassland on the banks of the Tamaro, the little river that goes through the town: the most miserable of patches! It's there that in December 1956 I went to see them in the company of the painter [Guiseppe] Pinot Gallizio, the owner of this uneven, muddy, desolate terrain, who'd given it to them. They'd closed off the space between some caravans with planks and petrol cans, they'd made an enclosure, a 'Gypsy Town.'
That was the day I conceived the scheme for a permanent encampment for the gypsies of Alba and that project is the origin of the series of maquettes of New Babylon. Of a New Babylon where, under one roof, with the aid of moveable elements, a shared residence is built; a temporary, constantly remodeled living area; a camp for nomads on a planetary scale.
Sociologists extend this concept to the aggregate of social relations and ties that define man's freedom of movement in society, and also, and above all, its limits. This symbolic interpretation of space is not one we share. For us, social space is truly the concrete space of meetings, of the contacts between beings. Spatiality is social.
In New Babylon, social space is social spatiality. Space as a psychic dimension (abstract space) cannot be separated from the space of action (concrete space). Their divorce is only justified in a utilitarian society with arrested social relations, where concrete space necessarily has an anti-social character.
The question of knowing how one would live in a society that knows neither famine nor exploitation nor work, in a society in which, without exception, anyone could give free rein to his creativity -- this troubling, fundamental question awakens in us the image of an environment radically different from any that has hitherto been known, from any that has been realized in the field of architecture or urbanism. The history of humanity has no precedent to offer as an example, because the masses have never been free, that is, freely creative. As for creativity, what has it ever meant but the output of a human being?
Yet let us suppose that all nonproductive work can be completely automated; that productivity increases until the world no longer knows scarcity; that the land and the means of production are socialized and as a result global production rationalized; that, as a consequence of this, the minority ceases to exercise its power over the majority; let us suppose, in other words, that the Marxist kingdom of freedom is realizable. Were it to be, we could no longer ask the same question without instantly attempting to reply to it and to imagine, albeit in the most schematic manner, a social model in which the idea of freedom would become the real practice of freedom -- of a 'freedom' that for us is not the choice between many alternatives but the optimum development of the creative faculties of every human being; because there cannot be true freedom without creativity.
Social Capital, Forms of Life and The New Spirit of Capitalism
In a recticular world, social life is composed of a proliferation of encounters and temporary, but reactivatable connection with various groups, operated at potentially considerable social, professional, geographical and cultural distance. The project is the occasion and reason for the connection. It temporarily assembles a very disparate group of people, and presents itself as a highly activated section of network for a period of time that is relatively short, but allows for the construction of more enduring links that will be put on hold while remaining available.
- Luc Boltanski & Eve Chiapello
What is now called "creative industries," not only by neoliberal cultural politics and urban development, is something completely different from old-school culture industry, both in its function and its form. Turning to the third component that involves the institutional form, it is obvious that creative industries are not structured as huge media corporations, but mainly as micro-enterprises of cultural entrepreneurs, conceptualized at best in clusters of these micro-enterprises. So if we ask about the creative industries as institutions, it might be better to talk about non-institutions or pseudo institutions. Whereas the model institutions of culture industry were huge, long-term corporations, the pseudo-institutions of creative industries are temporary, ephemeral, project based.
These "project institutions" appear to have the advantage of being based on self-determination, on the rejection of rigid hierarchies, as in (cultural) corporations. ...I want to stress that the project institutions of the creative industries conversely promote precarization and insecurity. In fact, it is clear that a glaring contradiction is evident in the idea of "project institutions": on the one hand the desire for long-term exoneration that the concept of the institution implies and on the other a distinct time-limit implicit in the concept of the project. Following Paolo Virno again, emphasizing the project character leads increasingly to an overlapping of fear and anguish, relative and absolute dread, and ultimately to a complete diffusion of this dread throughout all the areas of life and work.
- Gerald Raunig
Creative Industries as Mass Deception
Service Aesthetics by Steven Henry Madoff
The Culture Industry
A Chapter in the Philosophy of Value
Georg Simmel on Philosophy and Culture Herman Miller
Spatial Practices: Beyond Models of Consensus
There is a need for actors operating from outside existing networks while leaving behind circles of conventional expertise and overlap with other post-disciplinary fields of knowledge. An alternative model of participation within spatial practices will be rendered, one that takes as a starting point an understanding of participation beyond models of consensus. Instead of aiming for synchronization, such a model could be based on participation through critical distance and the conscious implementation of zones of conflict. Through cyclical specialization, the future spatial practitioner could arguably be understood as an outsider who, instead of trying to set up or sustain common denominators of consensus, enters existing situations or projects by deliberately instigating conflicts as a micro-political form of critical engagement. ...It seems that today we are in urgent need of re-evaluation of spatial production beyond traditional definitions, acknowledging the possibility of an "architecture of knowledge" that is being built up by actively participating in space. The prerequisite to an understanding, production and altering spatial conditions is to identify the broader reaches of political reality.
- Markus Miessen
According to the agonistic approach, public spaces are always plural and the agonistic confrontation takes place in a multiplicity of discursive surfaces. I also want to insist on a second important point. While there is no underlying principle of unity, no predetermined centre to this diversity of spaces, there always exist diverse forms of articulation among them and we are not faced with the kind of dispersion envisaged by some postmodernist thinkers. Nor are we dealing with the kind of 'smooth' space found in Deleuze and his followers. Public spaces are always striated and hegemonically structured. A given hegemony results from a specific articulation of a diversity of spaces and this means that the hegemonic struggle also consist in the attempt to create a different form of articulation among public spaces.
- Chantal Mouffe
During the heyday of modernism, no one seemed to care about "the environment" because there existed a huge unknown reserve on which to discharge all bad consequences of collective actions. There was an exterior since, to use the economists' term, action could be externalized. The environment became public when there was no longer any exterior, any reserve, any dump in which to discharge the consequences of our actions. Environmentalists, in the American sense of the word, never managed to extract themselves from this contradiction that the environment is precisely not what lies beyond and should be left alone - this was the contrary, the view of their worst enemies! - but what should be even more managed, taken up, cared for, stewarded, in brief, integrated, internalized in the very fabric of their polity. Here N&S are at their best: between the environment and the ecological struggle, one has to chose. Nature, no matter grey or green, does not mix well with politics. Only "once out of nature" may politics start again and anew.
- Bruno Latour
Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Okonomie / Fragment on Machines
Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
The example of labor shows strikingly how even the most abstract categories, despite their validity - precisely because their abstractness - for all epochs, are nevertheless, in the specific character of this abstraction, themselves likewise a product of historic relations, and possess their full validity only for and within these relations. ...the categories (concepts) which express social relationships in the most advanced society...also allow insights into the structure and the relations of production [whose] nuances have developed explicit significance within it.
Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it. To what degree the powers of social production have been produced, not only in the form of knowledge, but also as immediate organs of social practice, of the real life process. Machine [as fixed capital] are not only socially organized by socially organizing
In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or - this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms - with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.
In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic - in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.
- Karl Marx
Creating the Context:
Max Neuhaus and Natural Setting
In a small, quiet grove of trees off the main path, the sound is encountered as one enters the area. It is not a startling sound but one that feels organically connected to the area, emerging out of the songs of birds, the crackle of twigs, and the rustle of leaves in the breeze. The first impression is one of peace and calm, even before one is aware of the sound itself. Once the sound is located, the impulse is to stop and listen, locate the source perhaps to be better able to locate oneself in direct line with a speaker, to be in the direct path of a droplet of sound. As you circle the tree, there are points where the sound urges you to stop and listen as it continues to travel from speaker to speaker, distributing the different pitched clicks around the ground in their spiral orbit. One hears the path of the sound as it travels away and around the tree to return to your stopping place. Then one moves on to a new location, repositioning to listen again in a new drop-spot. The effect is one of sheer serenity. Neuhaus has designed an electronic system whose sounds are so consistent with the environment that they seem indigenous to their location.
- Joan La Barbara
Nature for Its Own Sake: First Studies in Natural Appearances
John Charles Van Dyke
A person stands at the edge of the sea, intent upon nothing. He hears a sound of the waves, noisy and continuous, even though after a certain time he is no longer listening. That person perceives, but without being aware of it. The perception of the uniform motion of the waves is no longer accompanied by the perception of self as perceiving subject. This perception does not at all coincide with what in philosophical jargon is called apperception, or the consciousness of being in the act of perceiving. At the graying edge of the waves, the person standing there absorbed is one with the surrounding environment, connected by a thousand subtle and tenacious threads. This situation, however, does not pass through the filter of a self-reflexive "subject." Rather, this integration with the context is that much stronger the more the "I" forgets itself. Such an experience, however, clashes with what has become the point of honor of modern philosophy, that is to say, with the thesis that perception is inseparable from apperception, that true knowledge is only the knowledge of knowledge, that reference to something is founded upon reference to oneself. The experience of the person on the beach suggests, rather, that we belong to a world in a material and sensible manner, far more preliminary and unshakable than what sweeps out from the little we know of knowledge.
- Paolo Virno
She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.
The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard,
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.
- Wallace Stevens, The Idea of Order at Key West
The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre
Spatial interchangeability inevitably brings a powerful tendency towards quantification in its train, a tendency which naturally extends outwards into the surroundings of the housing itself - into those areas variously represented as the environment, transitional spaces, means of access, facilities, and so on. Supposedly natural features are swallowed up by this homogenization - not only physical sites but also bodies, specifically, of the inhabitants (or "users"). Quantification in this context is technical in appearance, financial in reality and moral in essence.
- Henri Lefebvre
Immaterial Labor: Art, Work and Politics in Disciplinary
It is clear, for example, that the ascendancy of autonomy within the liberation movements implied an analogous requirement and sought to institute within a single social system a precise border between an inside and an outside, between the horizon proper to a particular community (determined by specific codes of belonging) and the rest of the social system, which was effectively reduced to being a simple environment. One of the most incisive effects of recent technological developments has been to subvert this distinction between community and environment - first by rendering ever weaker the ties of the community, then by colonizing the environment in an ever more massive way, and finally by generating theoretical practical paradigms capable of being applied indiscriminately to social reality no less than to the environment, that is, to nature. ...Its naturalness, however, refers in every instance to a necessary structure, to a given fact independent of any possible external interaction. ...The transformation of nature into environment implies the dissolution of this factuality, as much at the level of scientific theory as at the level of technical practice.
- Massimo De Carolis
What's the scenario? A constantly mutating sequence of possibilities. Add a morsel of difference and the results slip out of control, shift the location for action and everything is different. There is a fundamental gap between societies that base their development on scenarios and those that base their development on planning. It could be argued that the great Cold War divide in socio-economic structuring was rooted in the different kinds of results that you get if you apply either one or the other technique to working out how thing might end up in the future. And it is claimed that scenario thinking won. Our vision of the future is dominated by the "What If? Scenario" rather than the "When do we Need More Tractors? Plan." Yet what is the quality of this scenario mentality and how is an awareness of it connected to the work of some artists now? ...Scenario thinking dominates Western cultures within politics, economics, film, television and literature. At one extreme a destabilised sense of doubt is crucial to the success of capitalist structures. Yet the nature of scenario thinking is deeply rooted in other forms of activity. It is a defining characteristic that is common in post-modern societies. It is crucial to the risk taking and delicate balance sought by those who wish to exploit resources and people yet it is also the tool of those who wish to propose change.
- Liam Gillick
On the Style Site
Art, Sociality, and Media Culture
Just as the standard interpretation of the commodity as a "thing" had to be modified by the fact that a key product of contemporary informational and immaterial economy would seem to be affects, feelings, sensitivities and communications - in social relations - the artwork or art event could equally be understood as a social space rather than an objet - a producer of social relations. ...The key issue here is how style is associated with the notion of appearance and how appearance in turn relates to processes of recognition and identification. The question of style then has to be thought in relation to the forms of social identity that arise from processes of recognition. It is this relation - the interaction between appearance, recognition and social identity - that should be understood as a site. It intervenes, more precisely, in a specific historical and cultural situation in which design and style issues have taken on unprecedented significance - both in relation to economic "production," in the traditional sense and in relation to ideas about changes in the concept of production itself - changes brought on by the so-called information economy or attention economy. ...The style site is, perhaps above all, treated as a mediatic site and is associated with the global information networks of contemporary capitalism, with all the difficulties this entails for concepts such as "place" or "context."
- Ina Blom