[-empyre-] violent conflict
Apologies to Ted and Markus for a slow response. I'm thankful for the
chance to talk about their work. Certainly their projects have come
up here in some of our discussions in Illinois.
I have some thoughts and questions related to their initial posts.
First, I'll paste the snippets to which I'm primarily responding.
Skip on down if you've already read their posts -
Participation is war. Any form of participation is already a form of
conflict. In war, enemy and adversary usually hold territory, which
they can gain or lose, while each has a spokesman or authority that can
govern, submit or collapse. In order to participate in any environment
or given situation, one needs to understand the forces of conflict that
act upon that environment. In physics, a spatial vector is a concept
described by scale and direction: in a field of forces, it is the
individual vectors that participate in its becoming. However, if one
wants to participate in any given forcefield, it is crucial to identify
the conflicting forces at play.
....participation becomes conflict, conflict becomes space. Re-inserting
friction and differences into both the scale of the institution and the
city bears the potential of micro-political forces that render conflict
as practice. In this context, participation becomes a form of
non-physical, productive violence. ...
No intervention into public domain can begin without first exposing
political jurisdiction and conditions of ownership. As architects we
are responsible for producing counter spatial procedures, political
and economic structures that can produce new modes of sociability and
encounter. An urbanism that understands conflict and can embrace the
[more from Teddy...]
4. The challenge at this moment is to pull things apart, to
critically understand the way certain institutions operate, only then
we can propose counter procedures that can generate new models of
possibility. Traditionally, though, the notion of the avant-garde has
proposed the opposite: that the artist keeps a 'critical distance'
from the institutions in order to critique these spheres of power
from the outside. Today, what's important is what I would call a
'critical proximity,' which in fact is the opposite: it's about us
tactically entering the institutions in order to mobilize their
resources and logics of organization. It is a very different agenda,
less this sort of fake protest or rebellion.
[Back to me - ]
There is some obvious resonance between these two initial posts, and
they raise some questions that I've thought only a little about, and
don't have any answers for. I'm going to mingle my responses to the
two in the interest of promoting discussion. I hope neither of you
will take this as collapsing your posts into one voice.
The rhetoric of "participation" is certainly in need of the sort of
agitation that Markus introduces here - whether in interactive art,
internet-based social forms, or in political representation. I also
often find conflict obscured by the very notions of "community" under
which participation is celebrated. To this end, Nancy's work on the
Inoperative Community has been helpful for me, as have histories of
utopian approaches to communication. (Just today, I delivered a
presentation here on campus about how the celebration of "creativity"
has also served to mask such conflicts.)
Likewise, I'm all for discovering, exposing and sharing the ways in
which "certain institutions operate," and doing so from within.
But are the military metaphors for our response really necessary, and
how do they function here? I don't deny that the spaces within which
we operate - the streets and hallways through which I move, and also
the cross-border spaces I've never seen on which my movements are
equally dependent - are often/usually structured to foment violence.
But aren't there any other modes of describing response than through
military metaphors? There are so many possible responses to dealing
with conflict than through counter-conflict. I've been wondering here
about nonviolence but also of "ethics of plenitude" or grace, in
which new social orders are brought about through giving, radical
religious orders and such. Have either of you come across worthy
examples of counter-action within these conflicted spaces that adopt
less militant approaches to space? "Embracing the contradictory"
could be related to this - as in contradictory economies of
expenditure, gift, and return.
I don't really know what I'm talking about in this line of thought,
I've got no experience there. But I'm frustrated with how the tactics/
strategies language sometimes ends up repeating some of the same uses
of space. Thinking here of Weizman's piece about Deleuze and the IDF...
Teddy's sentence about "tactically entering the institutions in order
to mobilize their resources and logics of organization" comes to mind
here. To what end are these resources and logics mobilized? From
knowing a little of your work Teddy I imagine that you don't mean
that in the same way that some of the legacies of "culture jamming"
mean it. Perhaps you can apply that to one of your projects, or one
you know? It would be good to get some differentiation from "fake
protest" here via examples, especially since our modernist legacy
keeps tugging us back to the abstract, the structural. Not looking
for a definition of authenticity here, just looking to clarify
strategy through grounding it in specific ends.
Thanks again to you both for your work.
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