Re: [-empyre-] Is Modernity our Antiquity
I don't know Henry... false consciousness? We can at least say that the
theories and histories of the modern and the postmodern interoperate for
now. I don't know if there is a new attractor or new critical framework
that has emerged or is emerging that is worthy of being considered
epochal... but I suspect one. I'm very interested in how computation
intersects and catalyzes the modern to postmodern to N-speculative
transition... but that is another post... literally... apparently not on
point for this discussion...
But certainly the modern and postmodern interoperate today not only in
terms of how we view art practices in a critical sense, but in how they
continue to generatively guide current art practices, consciously or
unconsciously, compliantly or resistively, assuming copious entropy and
plurality too. We are thrown in the culture we bootstrap from... that we
are having the discussion is evidence.
For example all of the discourses on digital mixing/remixing and
peer-to-peer networks; they are still very much bound to postmodernism,
most specifically the issue of appropriation, at the same time they
explore contemporary modalities (and sometimes legalities) of
appropriation. Are they the limit of concern or exclusive frameworks
intersecting such practices? No. But nevertheless, in 100, 1000, 10,000
years when these might well be obscure genealogies, it would still be
accurate to discuss issues of postmodernist appropriation and relation
to the digital as reflecting contemporary thought and issues for the
remixers. Agreed, if anyone by then cares;-)
If consciousness is something we produce together, then M and P-M and
perhaps N-speculative will keep playing out. I could add to this archaic
art to the romantic... all have aspects that are still in play in M and
P-M, and wherever we are in our contemporary. And some of these eras had
profoundly different energy policies;-)
But if you are arguing that they should be consciously dispensed with as
much as possible in practice moving forward - that they lack something
we need today, that they are part of our comfortable wealth where even
war is something we do fairly blithely... Well, sure. Will some other
epoch come from adjusting to the coming energy shock? I would not rule
Henry Warwick wrote:
In this debate, I don't agree with any of it.
I am of the opinion that Postmodernity is a false consciousness, based
on a Modernity that never really existed.
Push your time out, and you'll see what I mean.
100, 1000, 10,000 years.
These issues flicker and fade quickly in deeper time, but the drive of
"art making" continues - we adorn and we admire, we hold something as
special, and we (today) call it art. That continues across the ages,
and will continue to do so.
I think there is only "The Contemporary". This isn't a "master
narrative" or a critique of such. It's simply looking at things with
some perspective and humility. I think it might be more productive to
discuss things in terms of various axia; time, space, class, work-
time: 1960 ce
work-practice: wage slave
time: 23,000 bce
class: Not Applicable
work-practice: hunter gatherer
or find other axia of illumination - some might be more useful or
interesting than others...
But to finally dispense with the dreary academic arguments regarding
"Modernity", "PostModernity", etc. would be a great stride for the
species. As it is, it seems the world is collectively farting sawdust
with such debate.
Frankly, I think the consumption of energy is more responsible for the
creation of so-called "Modern World", and its depletion is responsible
for its demise.
In the 18th century, we started heavily mining coal. Soon, the first
"Modern" age of classicalism appeared. In 1859 oil was pulled out of
the ground in Pennsylvania. One year later, the USA had a Revolution.
Within a few decades, we were well into the petroleum age, and the
notion of "Modernity" appeared, as the technological substrate for its
appearance was created by the one time gift of 2 trillion barrels of
liquified stored solar energy.
In 1979, the global consumption of energy as distributed on a per
capita basis, peaked and began to decilne, even though petroleum mining
continued to increase in actual volume. The Next Thing You Know, we're
in a "Post-Modern world". According to some, global production of
petroleum peaked on 16 December 2005. We'll only know in hindsight in a
few years if this is true or not. If so, it only makes sense that we're
talking about a post-postModernity (or some equally arbitrary notion)
of Civilisation. The salient characteristic of this cultural moment
could well be the slide down the other side of Hubbert's Peak - the
Culture of Depletion.
Cultural actors can't be neutral during that phase. If mishandled, the
results are extinction, or worse: a long slide into horror. The kind of
"aloofness" and "obscurity" fostered by PostModern (tm) and rightfully
criticised (Habermas, Sokal, etc.) will be replaced with a more pointed
multi-axis struggle, where the ultimate Petroleum State (the USA
Empire) slides away from unipolar dominance into being one of several
regional hegemons (with EU, China, Russia, India, etc.) competing for
the last few resources to keep their war machines going.
Once the multi-polar system fails under the weight of its own entropic
depletion curve, history will once again be forced to reckon with the
Contemporary, only this time, on a permanent basis. I call that the
"Permanent Contemporary", where even the notion of one's own time
disappears. Small strokes of history will re-appear - someone will pull
something out of the ancient landfills that has some "time" in it -
perhaps an "Art History" book. Even in translation, it won't make
sense, and the pictures will seem as if they were from another planet.
A planet of steel, glass, concrete, and a rare mysterious substance
In any case, any number of projections can be made from any number of
axia (PosterModern relativism combined with its parent, Modernist
Universalism, at your service...) but some will prove more useful than
others - the focus won't be on "everything goes". It will be on "go
with everything that works - but GO!"
Linear systems are a tiny subset of non-linear systems.
Personally, I prefer to live in the Permanent Contemporary, now.
"No time like the present!"
dispeptically exhausted and cranky as usual, I give you all my kindest
Brett Stalbaum, Lecturer, PSOE
Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts Major (ICAM)
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO
Department of Visual Arts
9500 GILMAN DR. # 0084
La Jolla CA 92093-0084
Info for students, winter quarter 2K6:
-ICAM and Media (computing emphasis) faculty advising:
Tuesday 1-2PM, VAF 206, Contact via email firstname.lastname@example.org
-Vis 40/ICAM 40 (Introduction/Computing in Arts) office hour:
Tuesday 2-3PM, VAF 206, Contact via WebCT
-Vis 141A (Computer Programming/Arts I) office hour:
Tuesday 3-4PM, VAF 206, Contact: via WebCT
Week 7 (Feb 21st) No office hours today
Finals Week (March 21st) Yes.
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