[-empyre-] Tacticality: 4 Anna

Anna Munster A.Munster at unsw.edu.au
Thu Apr 30 08:04:08 EST 2009

What I mean by the below is:
By predicating 'the nonrepresentatble' to something ie an artwork, one  
literally makes that artwork represent a quality ie this artwork is  
nonrepresentatble. That seems somewhat impossible or if not, likely to  
lead into an infinite regress of the kind that deconstructive english  
professors like but I am not so interested in...

So, that wasn't what I was suggesting the kinds of artworks I was  
referring to do... (please note: emphasis is on what an art work does  
not what an art work is - hence I am interested on the effects  
produced by art not the meaning of art). Rather the opposite: some  
thoughtful art of the kind I was referring to potentially produces  
effects that do not inhabit a semiosis of meaning but rather an  
asignifying semiosis (Guattari). Not what is unrepresentable, but  
rather what is nonrepresentable (an analogy might be: not what is  
unconscious but what is nonconscious).

Of course other artists to whom I was referring might use aesthetic  
elements - iconography, performance etc –  outside the realm of art's  
designated field of representation; ie the art world. So, while this  
does not mean they are NOt using representative forms, it means they  
are not representing themselves as artists. Other artists might  
produce works that are affective (ie produce affects that are not  
about representation and/or meaning) but may do so using combinations  
of representational forms/genres eg critique.

Of course if we take a very broad view of ontology, one might say  
these add up to 'an' ontology...one that tries to transform the hold  
that Being has had in western history for at least the last 300 years,  
for example. Or one could simply designate this (along with  
nonrepresentational, nonconscious), a 'nonontology', which is what I  
was doing.

btw, Steve, I don't presume to 'know' what is scary or stupid in the  
world at large...only what I come across in my concrete encounters  
with people on a day to day basis. Some of these encounters are  
online. One of these encounters was on this list. Many of the posts  
during this month have shown that people do not wish to even find out  
about vast bodies of aesthetic practice that are contemporaneous to  
this discussion. When people make generalisations about what 'art'  
does, it is, I would have thought, fairly ok to point out that  
actually. 'No, that is incorrect based on what is actually occurring  
in the world'. Last time I looked, this approach was called old- 
fashioned empiricism.

Apparently, however, it is not ok for a woman to then also call that  
ignorance 'stupid and scary'. It's not ok because if you are a woman,  
you really shouldn't question the attitude of, say,  university  
professors. Or, if you are a woman, you really need to be told what it  
is that you meant to say by a man, because you really don't know what  
you are talking about.

And before anyone starts getting on their bandwagon and huffing and  
puffing about me being some kind of 'victim' here - stop!! I am  
raising this point because a cursory glance at this list's posts this  
month will pretty much show that very few women have said a thing all  
month. Gee, I wonder why??!!

This month at empyre reminded me of list culture during the 1990s when  
we had to actually talk about gender and class as issues that needed  
to be analysed in list discourse. Still, again, I shouldn't be  
surprise - a topic area that tries to look at crumbling capitalism -  
no wonder the privileged get so edgy!


On 30/04/2009, at 4:02 AM, sdv at krokodile.co.uk wrote:

> anna,
> what does "Nonrepresentability is not a quality but an effect"  and  
> "you
> can't attribute some 'thing' a nonontology!" mean ?
> Especially important give what an ontology is.
> steve
> Anna Munster wrote:
>> Actually I am not calling for 'strategy'. I am not calling for
>> anything deterministic like 'how artists should respond' or 'what
>> someone on this list must do'!!! I am asking,instead, for
>> thoughtfulness among some people on the discussion this month!!
>> Thought, requires effort, it requires looking into things and all I  
>> am
>> suggesting is that these things are already all around us and indeed
>> have been for many years in the form of very interesting engagements
>> between artists and (as Simon has also suggested) a long period/ 
>> series
>> of crises.
>> ...and while I am fully cognisant of the military overtones of that
>> word, I was simply using it  to collectively denote a diversity of
>> practices that have an 'investigative' thoughtful and hopeful  
>> response
>> at their core. Some of these practices are also tactical – in the
>> sense of tactical media, tactical biopolitics and so forth. Many are
>> not. Many rely on affect and sensation as their means and end, in
>> which case they are nonrepresentational and are certainly not aimed  
>> at
>> some determinant outcome ie representing the nonrepresented. Rather
>> they set off or produce affective environments and sensations that
>> might also provide space for thought. Others might use this  
>> 'strategy'
>> as well as critique - Hito Steyerl's 'Lovely Andrea' at the last
>> Documenta  for example...
>> Nonrepresentability is not a quality but an effect, btw...you can't
>> attribute some 'thing' a nonontology!!
>> One thing I have learned from this month's discussion is that
>> speculative reason and speculative capital have never been more in  
>> bed
>> with each other. When thought takes the form of arrogant
>> generalisations it performs in similar ways to speculative capital.
>> Forever trying to hedge itself against its own precarity and
>> inevitable collapse.
>> Anna
>> On 29/04/2009, at 8:14 AM, Michael Angelo Tata, PhD wrote:
>>> Or maybe what Anna is calling for is not strategy, which is  
>>> primarily
>>> totalizaing and singular, but tactics, which are fragmented,
>>> dspersed, plural and framed in the absence of the God's-eye-view
>>> perspective without which there are no totals, only partial sums?  I
>>> am thinking again of Michel de Certeau.
>>> *******************************************
>>> *Michael Angelo Tata, PhD  347.776.1931-USA*
>>> *http://www.MichaelAngeloTata.com/* <http://www.michaelangelotata.com/ 
>>> >
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2009 11:09:05 -0700
>>> From: editor at intertheory.org <mailto:editor at intertheory.org>
>>> To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au <mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au 
>>> >
>>> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Artists' responses to the so-called "crisis"
>>> dear anna...interesting comments, though I wonder if your
>>> representation of the non-representable is not a bit too theological
>>> for my taste? And transformation is such a magical enterprise...
>>> alchemically speaking, I do not suspect that attribution of a  
>>> quality
>>> such as 'non-representabililty' adds or subtracts to the strategic
>>> authenticity or legitimacy of politics, responses or art, for that
>>> matter. Strategies, in other words, are always fatal...to their
>>> object, or to themselves. We all try to catch the falling the knife
>>> with each attempt at becoming, no?
>>> Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D
>>> Editor, Kritikos
>>> http://intertheory.org <http://intertheory.org/>
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> *From:* Anna Munster <A.Munster at unsw.edu.au
>>> <mailto:A.Munster at unsw.edu.au>>
>>> *To:* soft_skinned_space <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> <mailto:empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>>
>>> *Sent:* Saturday, April 25, 2009 3:48:56 AM
>>> *Subject:* Re: [-empyre-] Artists' responses to the so-called  
>>> "crisis"
>>> Sorry Nikos but as to your rhetorical 'no' below, I resoundingly
>>> reply NO WAY!!. There is a world of difference between responding
>>> (rather than reacting which is really what Joseph is talking about)
>>> to a social, economic and political crisis using aesthetic  
>>> strategies
>>> and techniques vs. the 'arts' of finance, government or whatever
>>> other institution you want to aestheticise.
>>> (a la Benjamin et al).
>>> The examples that Nik and Marc are talking about (and also what  
>>> Brian
>>> Holmes has been involved with) are emphatically not abut knee jerk
>>> response or reaction but are about using nonrepresentational
>>> aesthetic strategies - among a multitude of strategies which also
>>> include activist, semiotic, political, social and affective ones –
>>> to /transform/ subjective and collective situations. These are
>>> immanent, critical, positive and productive relationships with  
>>> crisis
>>> ie they do not respond /to / crisis but rather work amid, through  
>>> and
>>> via crisis to work with what might be transformative about crises.
>>> And these aesthetic strategies are absolutely everywhere both in and
>>> out of the 'art world' eg Critical Art Ensemble, Harwood and
>>> Mongrel,16Beaver, rebublicart project, The Senselab, eipcp, Make
>>> World, edu factory, The Thing, Serial Space (sydney -based for all
>>> you North Americans who need to get out more ;-)  etc etc etc. And
>>> these are just the artists/collectives/projects - there's also a
>>> wealth of brilliant art theory around this - try Hito Steyerl,  
>>> Gerald
>>> Raunig, Brian Holmes, Matthew Fuller, Florian Schneider, Brian
>>> Massumi all the FLOSS+art etc etc etc
>>> There is NO relation between these kind of politics, responses and
>>> aesthetics and the 'art' of finance - except a relation of  
>>> revulsion.
>>> On the other hand, if you want to find out about a really fantastic
>>> installation that engaged directly with the stock market and in fact
>>> used a gambling syndicate's money to trade stocks as part of the
>>> actual art work - have a look at Micheal Goldberg's documentation of
>>> his 2002 work 'Catch a Falling Knife'
>>> (http://www.michael-goldberg.com/main.html - go into Projects and
>>> select the title of the piece).
>>> Just another point I'd like to make about this month's discussion  
>>> - I
>>> have found some of the posts scary and stupid in their absolute lack
>>> of knowledge about anything that is going on about contemporary art,
>>> aesthetic strategies and politics. I really think some people need  
>>> to
>>> do a bit of preliminary research and investigation before they start
>>> sounding off about  how boring or naive the concept of aesthetically
>>> responding to crisis is,
>>> Best Anna
>>> On 24/04/2009, at 10:36 PM, Nicholas Ruiz III wrote:
>>>    nk...another aspect of interest is the way in which the financial
>>>    realm in itself is a creative act, and artful...with all of the
>>>    discussion revolving around the perception/reading parallax, I
>>>    wonder how people in the artistic/academic community may not
>>>    perceive/read financial creativity as art at all...I suspect such
>>>    financial activity is a form of art, which contains all of the
>>>    aspirations, triumphs and failures that any art project may
>>>    enable, no?
>>>    nikos
>>>    Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D
>>>    Editor, Kritikos
>>>    http://intertheory.org <http://intertheory.org/>
>>>    ----- Original Message ----
>>>    From: nick knouf <nak44 at cornell.edu <mailto:nak44 at cornell.edu>>
>>>    To: -empyre- <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>    <mailto:empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>>
>>>    Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 1:07:11 PM
>>>    Subject: [-empyre-] Artists' responses to the so-called "crisis"
>>>    Dear empyre,
>>>    It's strange that it's the 16th of the month (at least where I
>>>    am), yet
>>>    there has been little sustained discussion of present-day  
>>> artistic
>>>    responses to this so-called financial "crisis"--one that exists  
>>> in a
>>>    mythical realm of numbers-that-we-cannot-perceive, but that  
>>> sadly has
>>>    very real impacts on people.  Responses by students, academics,  
>>> and
>>>    activists have not been limited to the resignation of  
>>> acceptance, nor
>>>    abstract theorizing in and of itself, but rather have taken, at
>>>    times,
>>>    forms of protest and occupation throughout the world, as well as
>>>    direct
>>>    actions against banking institutions.  (See, in particular the
>>>    story of
>>>    Enric Duran:
>>>    http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20090319182858556 and
>>>    http://17-s.info/en .)  How then might we understand these  
>>> actions
>>>    within the context of our own theorizing activities?
>>>    This should reflect a special concern as to the impact of this
>>>    "crisis"
>>>    on academic and cultural institutions.  Indeed, the occupations  
>>> and
>>>    protests at schools---NYU, the New School, University of  
>>> Rochester,
>>>    institutions in Italy and France and Spain and...---suggest the  
>>> deep
>>>    worry that many have regarding how the "crisis" might ultimately
>>>    move to
>>>    transform culture and learning into more and more reified  
>>> situations
>>>    governed by numbers and the market.  (The Bologna process is
>>>    coming to
>>>    the
>>>    states: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/education/ 
>>> 09educ.html .)
>>>    In response there have been discussions and interviews about how
>>>    we can
>>>    use this time of "crisis" to develop new models that exist in
>>>    parallel
>>>    to concurrent struggles to force governments to provide for the  
>>> basic
>>>    needs of people.  (See in particular "Interviewing the Crisis":
>>>    http://www.interviewingthecrisis.org/ .)  How might we then
>>>    reconsider
>>>    actions and activities of the past and present and future---TAZs,
>>>    tactical media, pirate radio, and many, many, more---in light of
>>>    calls
>>>    for more standardization and more "accountability"?
>>>    And whither the academic institution?  Corporations have fairly  
>>> free
>>>    reign in many departments at colleges and universities in the  
>>> United
>>>    States.  Are we to expect even more of these so-called
>>>    "public-private
>>>    partnerships" in the future?  What is the role of the  
>>> institution in
>>>    producing the people who created the "crisis" in the first place?
>>>     Who
>>>    will follow the links between the powerful actors in order to map
>>>    their
>>>    impact?
>>>    I present here a recent project of mine that is my own attempt to
>>>    face
>>>    some of these issues.  MAICgregator (http://maicgregator.org
>>>    <http://maicgregator.org/>) is a
>>>    Firefox extension that aggregates information about colleges and
>>>    universities embedded in the military-academic-industrial (MAIC)
>>>    complex. It searches government funding databases, private news
>>>    sources,
>>>    private press releases, and public information about trustees to
>>>    try and
>>>    produce a radical cartography of the modern university via the
>>>    replacement or overlay of this information on academic websites.
>>>    MAICgregator is available for download right now:
>>>    http://maicgregator.org/download .  If you want to see what
>>>    MAICgregator
>>>    does to a website without downloading it, you can look at some
>>>    screenshots: http://maicgregator.org/docs/screenshots .  This  
>>> is its
>>>    first public release, so expect that things might not work  
>>> properly.
>>>    I have written an extensive statement about MAICgregator that
>>>    tries to
>>>    contextualize it within discourses of net.art, the
>>>    military-academic-industrial complex, "data mining", and activist
>>>    artistic practices.  As the statement is rife with embedded  
>>> links,
>>>    please read it online:
>>>    http://maicgregator.org/statement
>>>    I welcome any feedback or discussion that this might provoke;  
>>> if you
>>>    want to e-mail the project authors directly, please e-mail info
>>>    --at--
>>>    maicgregator ---dot--- org.
>>>    http://maicgregator.org/
>>>    nick knouf
>>>    _______________________________________________
>>>    empyre forum
>>>    empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au <mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au 
>>> >
>>>    http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>>    _______________________________________________
>>>    empyre forum
>>>    empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au <mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au 
>>> >
>>>    http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>> A/Prof. Anna Munster
>>> Assistant Dean, Grant Support
>>> Acting Director Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics
>>> School of Art History and Art Education
>>> College of Fine Arts
>>> UNSW
>>> P.O. Box 259
>>> Paddington
>>> NSW 2021
>>> 612 9385 0741 (tel)
>>> 612 9385 0615(fax)
>>> a.munster at unsw.edu.au <mailto:a.munster at unsw.edu.au>
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Windows Live™ Hotmail®:…more than just e-mail. Check it out.
>>> <http://windowslive.com/online/hotmail?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_HM_more_042009 
>>> > _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au <mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> A/Prof. Anna Munster
>> Assistant Dean, Grant Support
>> Acting Director Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics
>> School of Art History and Art Education
>> College of Fine Arts
>> P.O. Box 259
>> Paddington
>> NSW 2021
>> 612 9385 0741 (tel)
>> 612 9385 0615(fax)
>> a.munster at unsw.edu.au <mailto:a.munster at unsw.edu.au>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

A/Prof. Anna Munster
Assistant Dean, Grant Support
Acting Director Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics
School of Art History and Art Education
College of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 259
NSW 2021
612 9385 0741 (tel)
612 9385 0615(fax)
a.munster at unsw.edu.au

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