[-empyre-] atavistic conservatism

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Mon Apr 19 12:52:21 EST 2010

Arthur ,

Please forgive my delay in picking up your thread,which I've been 
meaning to do as I see it woven into comments over the week.  I'm 
especially interested in your formulation of how "atavistic 
conservatism suddenly goes repressively liberal, justifying its 
attempt to shutdown the Transborder project in terms of "responsible 
academic research."

I think that Nick Knouf's account of the difficulties he's faced in 
received interior University funding for his projects exemplifies the 
"liberal" camouflage sported by atavistic conservatism--that the 
comfort of the majority overrides the injection of tactical thinking 
and art into the core of academic research and artistic thought. 
Therefore the most well-intended jurist can think of innumerable 
reasons why Nick's provocative artistic research (which provides 
access to the underwear of social metadata [which administrators sits 
on what corporate boards, for instance]) can end up having unintended 
consequences across the widest spectrum of society--thus the 
University has a responsibility to protect students such as Nick (and 
the University) from any imaginary consequences by not him with low 
levels of requested funding.

Interestingly, Renate received word this past week from a low-level 
administrator in one of her units that that program would not 
disseminate the announcement of this month's theme on its listserve 
because "it isn't appropriate."  Appropriate it seems to what 
administrators of college lists deem in their mind to be recognizable 
artistic practice, which would include, of course, her management and 
moderation of -empyre-.

Ironically, an article appeared this week at the same University 
lauding the commercialization of a new shotgun that had been designed 
in our Engineering MA program. One of the our hopes in framing this 
month's discussion is to reflect on precisely the kinds of paradoxes 
and disparities in thinking about and funding  of artistic and 
computing research that take for granted the appropriateness of 
certain projects and cross-institutional partnerships, such as those 
inscribed in the delivery of weaponry (whether for war or sport) and 
that naturally consider suspicious, under the mantel of repressive 
liberalism, projects and artworks whose research agenda might involve 
the critique of such premises.  The true danger to the stability of 
the University is that the arena for debate and conversation about 
such disparities is being threatened by pressures coming both from 
inside and outside the research and artistic arenas.

One history of multilayered critical and tactical mediation has been 
provided this week by Geert. whose implications were then extended to 
the current UCSD situation by Horit, Rita, Nick, Micha, Beatriz and 

We're looking  forward to hearing from more -empyreans- as we 
continue through te next two weeks with additional featured guests.



Tim Murray
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art

A. D. White House
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York  14853
tele: 607-255-4086

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