Basic premises

All science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided.
– Karl Marx, Capital vol. III, part 7, chapter 48.

All media work us over completely.
– Marshall McLuhan

Complicating thought strengthens the impetus of an active or energetic confusion – delirium – against the reactive forces whose obsessive tendency is to resolve and conclude. Rebelling against the fundamental drift of philosophical reasoning it sides with thought against knowledge, against the tranquilizing prescriptions of the “will to truth.”
- Nick Land

“I think we should have the modesty to say to ourselves that, on the one hand, the time we live in is not the unique or fundamental or irruptive point in history where everything is completed and begun again. We must also have the modesty to say, on the other hand, that — even without this solemnity — the time we live in is very interesting; it needs to be analysed and broken down, and that we would do well to ask ourselves, “What is the nature of our present?” I wonder if one of the great roles of philosophical thought might not be characterized by saying that the task of philosophy is to describe the nature of the present, and of “ourselves in the present.” With the proviso that we do not allow ourselves the facile, rather theatrical declaration that this moment in which we exist is one of total perdition, in the abyss of darkness, or a triumphant daybreak, etc. It is a time like any other, or rather, a time which is never quite like any other.”

- Michel Foucault

By seepage, we mean the action of many currents of fluid material leaching on to a stable structure, entering and spreading through it by way of pores. Until, it becomes a part of the structure, both in terms of its surface, and at the same time continues to act on its core, to gradually disaggregate its solidity. To crumble it over time with moisture.

- RAQS Media Collective

This graduate seminar is intended as an intensive investigation of current (and historical) theoretical perspectives as they might productively intersect with art practice, at large. The overriding impulse is essentially speculative, geared towards uncovering blindspots within which new forms of praxis can be envisioned. Given the appropriation of the avant-garde by the military-industrial-corporate complex—who has long understood and readily exploited the potential for sensory redistribution which to a large extent determines what is thinkable, perceptible—it is urgent for artists not only to gain a firm grasp on the specific modalities by which power operates, but also to develop speculative practices as “positive feedback”, essential to ejecting from increasingly tight communication and control. Consequently, much of this course will be devoted to directly engaging with the idea of the FUTURE, which has suffered greatly in light of the so-called “end of history”.

Each week, one or two students will be responsible for leading discussion around assigned readings (given the relatively small size of the class, each student will most probably be responsible for two readings).  Given that these readings form the core of the course, I expect that each of you will devote sufficient time to unraveling their various complexities with an eye on developing productive questions to animate group encounters.

DOUBLING UP!

The following readings will be presented by 2 students:

Donna Haraway—A Cyborg Manifesto

Dean Lockwood & Rob Coley—Cloud Time

Karen Barad—Posthumanist Performativity

Fred Moten / Stefano Harney—The Undercommons

Brian Massumi—The Autonomy of Affect

Sadie Plant—On the Matrix: Cyberfeminist Simulations

GENERAL PROCEDURE

Each reading will be subjected by respective respondents to the following questions:

 1. What are the central ideas proposed in the text(s)? Develop a manner of articulating these concepts with a combination of graphical and textual modalities, analog and digital methodologies.

2. Diligently note slips / gaps / aporias emerging from a close reading: what does this text fail to address, given its orientation? How could this theoretical perspective be consequently amended?

3. What opportunities for PRAXIS does this reading make immediately available?

4. What existing art works productively feed off of the ideas contained in the reading, or disturb them? It may be that attempts have already been made in these directions – in addition, identify those aspects of the works in question that deviate from or fail to address some of the theoretical ideas.

5. Distill five questions from the text to address to the rest of the class, to stimulate discussion.

Respondents will be determined on a first-come-first-serve basis – a sign-up sheet will be available on the first day of class to this effect.

FINAL PAPER / PRESENTATION

The final project will consist in a 30-minute presentation, functioning at once as a speculative proposal for a future art project while being grounded in at least two of the assigned readings (and attendant associations which these will inevitably entail). Given that this project does not require (immediate) actualization, speculation can be allowed a wide berth.

These presentations will take place on a day-long Symposium on Art and Speculation (provisional title), which will be open to the public.

This presentation will be distilled into a 5000 (PhD) or 3500-word (MA/MFA) written document to be handed in a week after the public presentation.

TUNING SPECULATION: NOVEMBER 18-20

On November 18, 19 and 20,  Tuning Speculation IV will take place at the ARRAY space in downtown Toronto (Walnut st.). See attached CFP.  Given what promises to be a wide range of theoretical-practical leveraging of speculation in relation to sound and consecutive matters, I suspect many of you will want to attend! CFP and more details here.

MARKING BREAKDOWN

In-class presentations: 50%

Symposium Presentation: 25%

Final Written Document: 25%

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