[-empyre-] re: demi-gods (Valerie), Relational Aesthetics (Mark), hypperreality (Christina)

Hi Valerie
Hi every one

Picking up a few threads: namely cyber time and space possibilities (Valerie)
Relational Aesthetics (Mark ) and Hyppereality (Christina)

What comes to mind is periphery. The digest we have compiled so far, challenges that the dialogical process be one of inclusion, of meshing what appears or enters in a successive chronological manner beyond a one on one basis. As well, the indexical (links and web references) info introduced in all our respective entries further define and ground enunciated perspectives. As viewers or readers we are being solicited and prompted to convergence and coherence through what feels like floating eclectic arrays. The overlap of "delayed" and "differed" responses to "incoming" new ones may blur the textual linearity and chronology. It is not unreasonable to move about these threads in a mode of alert peripheral vision.

It is much in that manner that I approached the curatorial process of the e-lounge event. The carnivalesque convergence of idiosyncratic and main stream new media artists and theorists was in effect perceived by some as a defiant politicized utterance posing a risk to aesthetic normalcy. The details of which I will pursue in forthcoming proceedings. In one instance an artist about to present and discuss work confided to me feeling a bit nervous in the presence of a web art curator who had been dismissive of earlier submissions. Never having met it turns out that these two occupied the same neighborhood in a distant city and made a pact to have breakfast after they got home. On what was predicated the curator's decision not to include x's work? and to what degree was the work deviant from aesthetic normalcy beckons the question whether curatorial processes must be thematically driven?

Your manifesto BIG ARTISTS DEFINING AN UNCOMPROMISING WORLD (the demi-gods) resonates with Okwui Enwezor's artistic direction of Documenta 11. http://www.documenta.de/data/english/index.html. In periphery to the 100 day exhibit of 116 artists, a series of 6 platforms around the world were scheduled throughout the year. "Planned as intellectually rigorous and methodologically adventurous, the culmination of the platforms as an exhibition unfolds the complex vicissitudes that shape the Documenta 11 exhibition when it opens on June 8, 2002. The platforms can be understood then as constellations that open up a critical review of processes of a range of knowledge production. Equally, these platforms perform a second operation in that they allow Documenta 11 the opportunity to render transparent the dimension of its intellectual interest and curatorial research. Hence the entire conceptual orientation of the exhibition is decidedly interdisciplinary, connecting a wide range of scholars, philosophers, artists, and film makers, institutions, cities, and audiences. The locus of Documenta 11 is one of debate and contestation, intellectually rigorous; methodologically adventurous more than any exhibition of contemporary art."

The problematics of aesthetic normalcy vis-a-vis the new relations of spectatorships proposed by Okwui Enwezor are examined in a review by Peter Wollen, The Last Hundred Days, (LRB,3 October 2002) "Enwezor's perceived bias towards little-known artists from distant corners of the globe seems to have earned him condescending and scurrilously ad hominem coverage from the New York press". Wollen continues, "Indeed, the critics and curators with whom I have talked about the show often expressed confusion, seeing Documenta 11 as an unstructured lucky dip within which the viewer might find a few islands of stability but a great many more archipelagos of uncertainty and confusion; a few major works but a great many more minor works with an obsessive attachment to particularity and a disregard for conventional aesthetics, which are replaced with by a spirit of documentary reportage, investigative journalism and idiosyncratic record-keeping."

In an earlier Empyre thread 'Relational Aesthetics' Mark Kristmanson also recalls that, "Crossing the threshold into the gallery space activates protocols that cue the public and even the participants to aestheticize the encounter." He cautions further that "if such a contract fails to deliver the cue to aestheticization to an audience as has been the intention in some of my work it is usual to be accused of having 'broken the sacred bond' or of 'tricking the public'...The difficulty with taking the 'contract' as the basis for such exchanges is that contracts are so heavily dependent for their meaning and interpretation on pre-given contexts--the density and intractability (and yes, the inequalities) of which should not be underestimated."

Again in pursuing Christina's overture on FILE 2002 <http://www.file.org.br/> one finds under the Share Works title a willful shift towards the periphery that is towards the collapse of current curatorial and derived art practices: "The FILE international festival of electronic language has posed strategies for cultural producers with the aim of potentializing multiplicative perspectives for the emergence and development of living processes of heterogenesis in digital culture. It has therefore launched a new proposal that we have called shared works. In the contemporary cultural situation, these will be works capable of triggering inaugural procedures and performances to fulfill expectations in relation to collective creativity and to other aspects as yet unexplored by the cultural pantheon of digitality, and also to contribute to the deconstruction of 'artistic' behaviors inherited from the culture of transcendence. What is involved here is discovering new tactics for connectivity and transformation in the production of cultural work that is no longer done under the guise of the uniqueness of the author or consensus of official disciplines. This gives rise to both unnamable alterity events and multi-cellular works whose creative transversality leads to crosses between previously incompatible worlds and poetics in which their existence will be incompatible."

Yet Christina's experience of FILE 2002 signals some discrepancies: "Hard to understand, for a foreign visitor, was the ideological role or intentionality of the net art curatorial gesture within the local political conditions. What were the political accomodations of left and right to the fact of the digital media hyperspace? A quick search of the word 'periphery' on the web conjures this link: http://www.oneworld.org/sejup/stories1.htm and its subsequent home page http://www.oneworld.org/sejup/index.htm as a possible backdrop to FILE 2002 when juxtaposed to Christina's insight of an absent cultural context. She relates the experience of a "labyrinth of electronic spatial narratives available at certain checkpoints, within which a cacophony of images flowed like white noise covering something else that was actually going on in a subliminal cultural context?" This white noise does evoke an homogeneity of digital flux and of aesthetic normalcy. How many increments away are we from normalizing "The presumably unprecedented condition of hyperreality". Christina reminds us how it "simultaneously assaults and freezes the process of reality testing and empirical observation; there is a loss of a sense of touch, and everything is processed by representation.The operational force is a kind of omnipresent coercion, without definite boundaries, with submerged checkpoints, so you can never see where you really are or what is going on."

Valerie, your memory of watching television on Christmas eve 1995 is also a memory about (your) spectatorship. Within the electronic flow of hundreds of shows available to you that special evening you chose to witness two events broadcasted in real time from distant small communities. As neophyte television consumers you sought to overrule the diegesis of representation and fiction in and rather experience anonymously temporal proximity.

As spectators we are defined by the various mediating apparatuses, we come to normalize and adjust to the options and features we are subjected to. What agency we are left with as spectators translates into our subjective location or positioning of art, objects, events, processes on a time line of newness, redundancy, and perhaps eventual obsolescence. Perhaps on the boundary of newness a claim could be made that the minor works of idiosyncratic artists endeavor to bridge to (or include) the marginal and the peripheral. I suggest by 'peripheral' something other than sensationalism, something which will (would) not or cannot be easily commodified or bartered as capital.

Reflecting on the origins and the influx of funding associated and required in the making, diffusion and re-defining of aesthetic processes, aesthetic normalcy in the hands of some, may serve a dual purpose, function as a transparent veneer (screen) to 'unnamable alterity' but also as a mirror reflecting the 'sacred bonds' engineered by the 'cultural pantheon'.


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