INTRODUCTION to course themes
THEME 1 : INTERVENTION
WEEK 1: THE EVERYDAY, INTERVENTION and MÊTIS
THE EVERYDAY : What associated words and ideas come to mind when you hear the word “everyday”?
everyday actions are part of a context, which is shared
unsystematic – hard to quantify
unexceptional – unlike EVENTS, which are more rare
infra-perceptible – everywhere and nowhere at the same time
What happens when nothing happens? And what is nothing when you’re focused down to the microscopic level?
When it is examined, it is also transformed. (The everyday can never be quite the same.)
INTERVENTION at large
public intervention, online intervention, media intervention, psychological “intervention”
Emphasis on what art DOES, rather than what it MEANS = PRAXIS
KNOWING HOW rather than KNOWING THAT
ART AS EXPERIMENTATION – outcome unknown
Artists possess the means to REDISTRIBUTE THE SENSIBLE, through deep training in image, sound, language, material manipulation
McLuhan: the artist is the only one who can see the present for what it is, to recognize patterns and to make them clear to the rest of the world
QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION
What does the future look like to you? Do you have an image of it in your mind? Does it bear any resemblance to the past or the present? Does the thought of the future fill you with anxiety, anticipation, excitement? How much control do you feel you have regarding the future?
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
1989 – the end of history – capitalism prevails as WORLD SYSTEM, no more struggle….yeah right!
What happens to time when the future has been cancelled?
The role of art is to make futures – to prime the ground for what is to come by slowly changing thought patterns.
This can be done on both biological and cultural levels – biological through neuro-sculpting (the nurturing of preferential neuronal pathways) which in turn conditions what kind of perception is possible—this can be accelerated through the use of prosthetic technologies;
and cultural, through the generation of novel thought patterns and “distributions of the sensible” (i.e. what it is possible to see at any given spacetime).
But also, to introduce FIGURES which have not yet been prepared for – and which may seem illegible in the context in which they erupt.
a kind of intelligence which combines “flair, sagacity, foresight, adaptability, pretense, resourcefulness, vigilance, opportunism”
the excluded term from the Greek triad also including POIESIS (making, “poetry”, art) and TECHNE (technique, technology, skill)
Plato thought mêtis was INAUTHENTIC – completely opposed to the virtues the city demanded from its citizens
predicated on the DISPOSITION, PROPENSITIES of a given situation (the ball / plane example) and its capacity to AFFECT and BE AFFECTED
more about POSITION, RELATIONSHIP and incorporation into a CONTEXT more than any kind of predetermined “essence”
situations which are transient, shifting, disconcerting and ambiguous that don’t lend themselves to precise measurement
MINIMAL EFFORT for MAXIMAL RESULT (leveraging – like pully systems for lifting heavy weights)
LOCAL knowledge, difficult to FORMALIZE
the TICK’s Umwelt (Von Uexkull): it only perceives what it can AFFORD / what it needs
long practice at similar but non identical tasks
sleights of hand and trade secrets which give craftsmen their control over material which is always more or less intractable to their designs
EXPERIMENTING with a particular action, observing the results
PLOTTING (as in conspiracy) vs. PLOTTING A COURSE of action, movement through a space
CRAFT (as in skill) and CRAFTY (as in devious)
INTERVENTION case studies
media: Orson Welles – War of the Worlds (1938)
Martha Rosler – If it’s too bad to be true, it might be DISINFORMATION (1985)
Andy Kaufman on Fridays (1981)
spatial: Gordon Matta-Clark – Conical Intersect (1975)
holes which “air out” a sealed structure to the outside
holes as cut-out points, which allow for temporary thought-intervention
holes can also happen IN TIME
why are there so few cut outs in mainstream media?
social: Eleanor Antin – Transactions
Pussy Riot – Punk Prayer (2012)
Francis Alys – Reenactments
psychological: Vito Acconci – Security Zone (1971)
INTRODUCTION OF PROJECT ONE: Crossing your own boundaries through infra-legible intervention.
READING for next week
EXERCISE for next week
1. Pick a given space with which you are intimately familiar. Observe / listen. Try to notice what you normally take for granted. (Is it possible to objectively describe a situation when immersed in it?) Take copious notes. Notice random connections between the environment, events which occur within it, your own stream-of-consciousness, and any other associated elements. You will need to periodically retune: realize that you have not gone deep enough, to the microscopic levels of activity within the environment, and need to find manners to notice even more detail. It will seem like a contradiction to pay attention to an environment which is inherently distracting. What do you pay attention to? To the exclusion of what else? Maintain the strange and contradictory as strange and contradictory, without trying to quickly resolve impressions into a sensible whole. Heraclitus: “Seek the invisible and the inarticulate.”
Do this for one hour, minimum.
2. Based on subtleties you have noticed, COIN A NEOLOGISM which describes a phenomenon which lies before your everyday eyes, but does not yet have a name. This phenomenon might be spatial, interpersonal, physical (tics, habits), involving contemporary technologies (mobile or other). Write this neologism on a strip of paper and keep your notes in a separate place for class discussion.
Nietzsche – Gay Science # 261: What is originality? To see something which still has no name; that still cannot be named even though it is lying right before everyone’s eyes. The way people usually are, it takes a name to make something visible at all. – Those with originality have usually been the name-givers.
3. Become aware of the effect of NAMING this phenomenon has on future encounters. Are there dangers in putting names to things too soon? How has your relationship with the “named” phenomenon changed?
4. How difficult is it to pay attention to multiple streams of information? Is it possible? Or do you have to choose? How do those choices present themselves to you?