[-empyre-] A Post-Futurist or a Neo-Baroque perception?

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Sat May 9 06:33:09 EST 2009

Thank you for taking the time to make me clarify.

At the risk of making a really banal point, I think that "human scale"
might be those things which we are able to deal with in a conscious
way, even as we forget its difference from us.  I think human scale
means, basically, those things that we can understand and that we can
thus engage with, alter, manipulate, end, etc.  But, beyond the
question of our power relative to things, "scale" implies some kind of
differential in size, quantity, duration, etc.

In Heidegger's account of being, consciousness can extend into the
general region of handy things, and I think this is where scale comes
into play.  It implies a certain level of agency (at the very least,
the potential to understand and intervene) over techniques and
technologies.  I don't know that it could go further than that.
(Maybe it is a horrible term to introduce into these discussions).

On the other hand, this idea is very important to the way that I read
D&G.  I believe that what they write about in A Thousand Plateaus is
precisely this point where boundaries are forgotten as consciousness
transgresses them, creating new bodies and new assemblages.  Nature
stratifies and destratifies, but this only matters to us if we can use
it metaphorically, to construct a narrative, to intervene in the
undifferentiated flow of time, to connect what's disconnected and
disconnect what's connected.  (I did this and that happened.  That
happened so I did this.)

A place where movement and the human scale intersect might be in the
intersection between artificial intelligence and surveillance, where
erratic combinations of movement are identified and policed and a
response is deployed as a matter of protocol to correct the error.
Such technologies hold "promise" for crowd control, border security,
and the automated care of the elderly.

But, in a certain sense, this technical manipulation of human behavior
is nothing new (see, for instance, Milton Friedman's work). What
differentiates the technical methods of manipulation from older
methods like lying, is that the very question of scale, speed, and
complexity is what estranges people from the premises of traditional
liberal models of governance.  Intervals that are too short or too
glacial for us to meaningfully intervene in them disconnect us from
any ability to alter them, they become impersonal, like forces of
nature, which we might be able to see and even understand, but which a
person can have no capacity to influence.

I think, here, might be where your discussion of the Neo-Baroque might
be very useful.  To me, this speaks of the technical field as one
which is emerging, which remains up for grabs, but which is often
quite hard to understand.  This is always the case, I think with
changes to the social fabric.  We can see paradigm shifts as they are
happening sometimes, but cannot always see their implications.  The
goal, I guess, is to keep trying...  which is where the strain comes

In my mind, "good" communication has value as "truth," and I have a
hard time distinguishing between "art" and "communication" in general
(although art typically seems to imply a level of care, preparation,
practice, conceptualization, intention, which distinguishes it from
sitting around talking.)  Today, a "truth" worth repeating might might
be the possibility that we can intervene in apparently impersonal
processes...  in effect, to tell the truth about scale and
relationships.  In some cases, these interventions are utopian in that
they offer a representation that reveals the tragic deficiency of the
actual...  art which shows what could be, what ought to be in place of
what is.  In other cases, art is revolutionary in that it offers a
clear depiction of social relationships which enable people to see
things with greater clarity.  This category, I would say, works to
serve to bring even the most impersonal, sprawling processes into the
scale of human cognition.

So, to bring it back to your comment.  Yes, I think we do have to
acknowledge various tools and techniques of spatial and temporal
measurement...  but they ought to be in service of, to circle back to
your words, "our choice."


On Fri, May 8, 2009 at 2:37 PM, stamatia portanova
<stamatiaportanova at yahoo.it> wrote:
> As someone who really enjoys working with concepts, I like to take writings, practical works, historical eras and manifestos as places where interesting critical and theoretical discussions potentially linger. Post-futurism for me is a concept, in the same way Baroque (' and Post-Baroque') are. In fact, if we consider things just at their 'significational', or 'representational' value, even the old Futurist manifesto could have been dismissed as already outfashioned, (in the same way as all proclamations about art and its more or less democratic meaning can be). But if we judge things in this way, we might miss the possibility to discuss some of the most interesting cultural, aesthetic, political ideas suggested to us..
> Davin, I really appreciated your comments. But what is exactly meant by 'human scale' and movement? Is it only the level of conscious intelligence and perception? Is it the unconscious of our unknown dreams and thoughts? Is it the automatic movements of smaller or larger body parts that at times seem to escape our own 'humanity'? Is it the molecules, or the chemical compounds that move in us? Is it the thoughts and sensations of all other bodies and beings we sense and think about while moving? All this might sound evocative or metaphorical, but these levels are actually there, in the 'human', at work in the sensing-moving body all the time.
> I also do not think there is such a strong contrast between two different kinds of time. Clock time is not just the pure invention of a rationalizing human being, out of nothing, to regulate its movements. It actually derives from the perception of periods and cycles that are already part of the more 'rational' side of nature. Its not just us seeing things in an intellectualizing fashion: electrons really move periodically, even if we are not there to perceive them and define them as moving in that way. To borrow from an overquoted (but always valid) idea of Deleuze and Guattari, it is nature itself that stratifies and destratifies. Both aspects are important and coexistent, in the same way we can't really separate the intensity and the extensive dimensions of a gesture or step. This is exactly why I like Whitehead's theories and especially a concept like the 'strain-feeling': yes, as Sally Jane was saying, the 'strain' is in live art, but it is really
>  everywhere, in all our perceptions. It is about catching the ordered, geometrical or mathematical, even limited and finite aspects of experience, that are always 'rationally' at work together with the more intensive ones. Mathematics has its own feelings...
> I think technology simply reminds us that both conceptions (fluid and discrete, mechanical and organic) of time, space, movement are needed, and that we actually have to re-acknowledge the importance of chronology and metrics if we want to understand it well, to use it or become friends, ignore it, appreciate it or simply fight it on an equal footing. Our choice..
> stamatia
> --- Ven 8/5/09, davin heckman <davinheckman at gmail.com> ha scritto:
>> Da: davin heckman <davinheckman at gmail.com>
>> Oggetto: Re: [-empyre-] A Post-Futurist or a Neo-Baroque perception?
>> A: "soft_skinned_space" <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
>> Data: Venerdì 8 maggio 2009, 15:32
>> I enjoy reading Virilio's works, so maybe this is the
>> result of some
>> congenital defect on my part, or maybe it is something that
>> I caught
>> through reading, but i really think the question here is
>> one of a
>> "human scale."  Clock time is not the same thing
>> as human scale,
>> rather it is a rationalization built around a human scale
>> of
>> perception, a parsing of the years, seasons, and days.
>> Following
>> Stamatia's account of the industrialization of the
>> human into
>> something inhuman, we have reached a point where the clock
>> time is
>> considered relatively human next to other regimes of
>> temporality and
>> acceleration...  but clock time is the point of departure
>> for further
>> manipulations of scale.
>> On the other hand, there is the experience of time through
>> sequence,
>> memory, and narrative, which might at times attach itself
>> to various
>> techniques and technologies of objective measure, but whose
>> content is
>> radically different from its rational measure.  For
>> example, in cases
>> of extreme boredom, where one becomes increasingly agitated
>> while
>> waiting for someone else....  the invocation of the clock
>> is the
>> supplement to the human experience ("I've been
>> waiting for three
>> hours!  Where were you?).  Conversely, when someone is
>> having fun, the
>> passage of time can be invoked to supplement the subjective
>> experience.  ("It's been three hours!  I was
>> writing and lost track of
>> time!")  Time, here, functions as a medium upon which
>> parties can
>> agree, but it is not the same thing as the experience
>> itself, whose
>> time is unrepresentable.  This time is so hard to deal with
>> and
>> communicate....  that this might be precisely why we'd
>> need to invent
>> some external judge, the clock, who can supposedly
>> arbitrate for us.
>> I think once we debate the "human" and the
>> "posthuman" on the
>> dialectical grounds of competing regimes of technique, we
>> highlight
>> differences which distort the basic question of being.  If
>> we say the
>> time of "human being" is the time of the clock,
>> then it follows that
>> "human being" is called into question when the
>> scale of the clock is
>> eradicated.  But, if we consider that "human
>> being" has always been
>> supplemented by various regimes of external temporal
>> regulation which
>> try to impose order upon the subjective experience of time,
>> then we
>> have a great deal more in common with people across
>> history.  In a
>> sense, how is "clock time" much different from a
>> dictionary?  Both try
>> to fix meaning for a community.  But we know that signs are
>> always
>> more than the dictionary tells us.
>> To put this in the context of this month's discussion,
>> I think that
>> those arts which are based on the movements of the human
>> body and
>> which require the active participation of the human being
>> are tied in
>> some sense to issues of presence and scale in very literal
>> ways.
>> Technologies of capture, acceleration, magnification, or
>> objectification are used upon/used by these persons in a
>> way that
>> highlights the relationships of scale between the human and
>> the
>> particular technique.  Particular instances might distort
>> or magnify,
>> exalt or diminish the relative importance of agents, but as
>> a system,
>> such art represents the relationships of scale that are
>> being enacted
>> across the globe by willing and unwilling participants on a
>> daily
>> basis.
>> Peace!
>> Davin
>> On Thu, May 7, 2009 at 12:14 PM, G.H. Hovagimyan
>> <ghh at thing.net> wrote:
>> > Manifestos are really old fashioned especially in the
>> digital age.
>> > Information systems are constantly being changed and
>> updated.  The
>> > truth is that any programming language or software
>> tool can be
>> > learned in a couple of weeks. In terms of manifestos
>> the only rule I
>> > find interesting is the one that is about the
>> democratization of art,
>> > this is the consequence of the networks.  All
>> information is
>> > equivalent on the networks. Time and space really
>> don't exist or
>> > rather all information exists at the same time on the
>> networks. The
>> > meaning of any bit of information is created by
>> it's use. This goes
>> > back to Wittgenstein's axiom, the meaning of word
>> is it's meaning and
>> > the meaning of a word is it's use.
>> > Since I am an artists, the meaning that I create is
>> art.  As an
>> > example my group Artists Meeting is doing a series of
>> video shows of
>> > curated youTube videos.  We use the found material to
>> create art.
>> > This is a consequence or result of web 2.0 and the
>> democratization of
>> > art.  Here's a link -- http://artistsmeeting.org
>> >
>> > On May 7, 2009, at 12:01 PM, stamatia portanova wrote:
>> >
>> >> In short, my final question is: given our
>> intensive, Post-Futurist
>> >> conception of time, how do we critically respond
>> to the small-scale
>> >> quantifications and restrictions, or
>> accelerations, of space-time
>> >> by digital technology, without going back to a
>> simultaneous
>> >> chronological and metric conceptions? In the end,
>> one moment can be
>> >> as long as a life...
>> >
>> > G.H. Hovagimyan
>> > http://nujus.net/~gh/
>> > http://artistsmeeting.org
>> > http://transition.turbulence.org/Works/plazaville
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > empyre forum
>> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> >
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