[-empyre-] A further thought Re: Cambridge and Paris

Penny Florence penny.florence at gmail.com
Wed Oct 13 03:06:14 EST 2010

Hi Everyone, Penny Florence here, one of the contributors to "Making Sense",
in Cambridge and, soon, in Paris.
Making work for me is much closer to Lorna's epistemological take than it is
to Renate's negotiation (though I expect you deliberately avoid that word,

I've worked with practice-related research in the context of leading Fine
Art PhD departments for over 15 years. Lorna is the first person I know of
to get anything like this off the ground from an academic department with no
direct relation to practice (such as art, design or architecture). It is no
mean feat. The philosophical divide between aesthetics/philosophy and the
practice/s of artists is thoroughly entrenched, even, or especially, where
those engaged think it is not. It stands in the way of those of us trying to
bring new media and web-based art into constructive, contested and uneasy
relation with mainstream traditions of art practice, art histories and
critical thinking.

There is a kind of precedent to Lorna's collective in second wave feminism.
Art was highly significant in that movement because so many of us realised
that it was not only a way of making sense, but also of making new sense,
the kinds of sense that were blocked elsewhere. By bringing that general
principle out of the (then necessarily) reactive space of a counter-cultural
movement, Lorna's move represents a further stage, not a return.
Jean-baptiste's remarks contrast the autonomous space of the art work with
situated spaces and embodied symbolic machines without looking closely at
the way the artwork can be just such a "machine" (a word that itself has a
long history in art and in politics). That is what it began to become in the
80s, and that is what eventually dissolved, or perhaps, was submerged. And
it evolves in and through the autonomy of the art work. To say that is not
to go off into some mystified space, but to go deeper into the materiality
of thought and transformative experience. With transformation, there can be
no new politics.

Which brings me e-poetry. I could say a lot more about the above, but I
don't want to be further deflected, and I'm not making any direct political
claims for my efforts in general or for my collaboration with John Cayley.
I'll just say that any truly new politics will have to abandon the romance
of revolution and opposition. That's an uncomfortable place for certainty.

This is how we described what we are doing for "Making Sense":
(start abstract)

The presentation is a collaborative performance between John Cayley and
Penny Florence, consisting of a screening of a 5-minute digital poem,
followed by a ten minute commentary/debate from the presenters that
elaborates on it from their different points of view. This is the first of a
series of enacted doubles: between collaborators; between source and target
texts; between sound and image; music and poetry; and between textual
subjectivities.  Through these, we explore the potential of digital poetry
as critique and translation, hypothesising an analogy or stronger between
the Mallarméen text and the digital, and, more broadly, the present and
early Modernism. The starting-point is the layering of "Le Pitre châtié."
over stanzas 3-5 of "Prose (pour des Esseintes)", programmed in a variant of
Cayley's "Translation" ( go to  http://www.shadoof.net/ and click on
Translation 6).

The two passages from Mallarmé are layered over and through each other via
English. This follows in part the process of "transliteral morphs", whereby
letters are moved from source to target text in a sound-related trajectory.
This reveals "abstracted underlying structures supporting and articulating
the 'higher-level' relationships between the texts" (in Cayley's words). The
sound is adapted from Debussy's "Chansons de Bilitis - Le Tombeau des
Naïades" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuxvwYNInZk , itself both resonating
with Louÿs' fake translation of "Bilitis", and thus a doubled identity of
sex and authorship, and with Mallarmé. There is a further, visual dimension,
that of "interliteral graphic morphs". These terms will be clarified in the
course of showing and commenting on the work.

(end of abstract)

As we have worked on this via Googlewave (we are currently on opposite
seaboards of the USA), the question of "transposition", of the changes that
occur between word, code, visuality, motion, natural languages, music, has
become increasingly intense, and increasingly expansive at the same time.
Taking transposition to be both destruction and invention ("creation"
bothers me slightly, with its religious and/or mystifying overtones), the
potential that is emerging appears very exciting. At the level of the body,
none of these elements is separate. In the art work, there is the potential
for that relation to the body to be communicated in the aesthetic encounter
- first of all as sensation. This is what I take Mallarmé to mean when he
writes of poetic language as distinct from instrumental language. It's not
about elitism. It's open to anyone who will focus on it. But it's not easy.
It's not lying around in headlines for careless consumption. It's where the
potential for non-commodified desire might manifest. It's also a place for
some interesting debate about the kinds of issue that academics do best -
interrogation of language, discussion of word-image relations, dispassionate
analysis of what you have actually produced, where its antecedents lie, how
new technologies intervene in old, and where any of the above might lead.

One last bit of context before I set off for a hellish day's work: my first
collaboration with John involved something very simple which turned out to
be revelatory. We staged a series of performances of e-poetry and
theoretical talks in the galleries of Tate Modern, projecting the new media
work on to the walls right by the paintings. That simple juxtaposition
convinced me that my hunch about this work and a modernism that never fully
emerged was worth following.

I look forward to your responses.

On 11 October 2010 05:48, Lorna Collins <lpc29 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:

> Dear Patty,
> Further to my message this morning I'd like to emphasise the way
> Making Sense uses the process of creating an artwork as a method of
> thinking. The aesthetic encounter sometimes refers to passive
> reception of an artwork; we are also interested in mobilizing the
> active, physical process of creating an artwork, as a method of
> thinking through doing. I am a painter and use colour and texture to
> think about ontology and make sense of the present. I think through my
> fingers, so to speak. I am interested in talking with artists who use
> digital media and cyberspace, a virtual reality, and comparing notes
> or experimenting on the process of creating an artwork.
> All the best,
> Lorna
> 2010/10/10 Patricia R. Zimmermann <patty at ithaca.edu>:
> > Lorna:
> >
> > Could you explain in theoretical and practical terms your idea of how
> Making Sense facilitates "aesthetic encounters."?
> >
> > What is the theory of an "aesthetic encounter"?
> >
> > How does your group define "aesthetic"?
> >
> > And, how does your group define "encounter"?
> >
> > How does the change implied from "encounter" differ in function from the
> change implied in "intervention" or "mobilization"?
> >
> > Thanks in advance for sharing any thoughts on the above based on your
> experience in Making Sense.
> >
> > Patty
> >
> > -------
> > Patricia R. Zimmermann, Ph.D.
> > Professor, Cinema, Photography and Media Arts
> > Roy H. Park School of Communications
> > Codirector, Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
> > Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies
> > 953 Danby Road
> > Ithaca College
> > Ithaca, New York 14850 USA
> > Office: +1 (607) 274 3431
> > FAX: +1 (607) 274 7078
> > http://faculty.ithaca.edu/patty/
> > http://www.ithaca.edu/fleff
> > BLOG: http://www.ithaca.edu/fleff10/blogs/open_spaces/
> > patty at ithaca.edu
> >
> >
> > ---- Original message ----
> >>Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2010 08:55:29 -0400
> >>From: empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au (on behalf of Renate Ferro
> <rtf9 at cornell.edu>)
> >>Subject: [-empyre-] Cambridge and Paris
> >>To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> >>
> >>Lorna Collins wrote:
> >>
> >>.......We want to analyse and discuss the aesthetic encounter and an art
> >>practice as a medium that can help us make sense of the world. We
> >>bring together artists and philosophers, scholars and students,
> >>thinkers and writers, from all around the world, to build an interface
> >>between artistic creation, theoretical debate and academic
> >>scholarship. At the colloquium we want to formulate new ways to frame
> >>and develop discourse, and found a new way of making sense, which can
> >>challenge and invigorate the protocol, regulation and system of
> >>academia. This is a different kind of conference – there is no
> >>hierarchical division between the plenary speakers and the audience,
> >>we have an economy of mutual exchange and intimate debate. This
> >>Colloquium.......
> >>
> >> Good Morning Lorna,  Thanks for giving us a general overview of your own
> >>philosophy and the history of the Making Sense Colloquium.  I'm wondering
> if
> >>you could talk about the event being held at the Pompidou in Paris? Do
> you
> >>have a mission for this event that might be slightly different that the
> >>Cambridge event in 2009?  Was there a publication that cam out of the
> >>Cambridge event or what kind of information was gathered that perhaps has
> >>informed the event in Paris? The statement above is so broad so I'm
> >>wondering if you have defined the Paris event differently based on what
> >>happened in Cambridge?
> >>
> >>Lorna will be introducing two of the Visiting Artist's who will be
> featured
> >>in Paris later today but I'm hoping that she will give us more of a sense
> of
> >>the event's history so that perhaps that would give our empyre
> subscribers a
> >>idea of the underpinnings of potential discussion points.
> >>
> >>Thanks Lorna.  Renate
> >>
> >>
> >>On 10/10/10 12:34 AM, "Lorna Collins" <lpc29 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:
> >>
> >>> Dear Renate,
> >>>
> >>> Thanks for the intro! I’d like to say a bit about Making Sense… This
> >>> is the second interdisciplinary colloquium of Making Sense.  The first
> >>> was held at the University of Cambridge in 2009. At these events we
> >>> want to analyse and discuss the aesthetic encounter and an art
> >>> practice as a medium that can help us make sense of the world. We
> >>> bring together artists and philosophers, scholars and students,
> >>> thinkers and writers, from all around the world, to build an interface
> >>> between artistic creation, theoretical debate and academic
> >>> scholarship. At the colloquium we want to formulate new ways to frame
> >>> and develop discourse, and found a new way of making sense, which can
> >>> challenge and invigorate the protocol, regulation and system of
> >>> academia. This is a different kind of conference – there is no
> >>> hierarchical division between the plenary speakers and the audience,
> >>> we have an economy of mutual exchange and intimate debate. This
> >>> colloquium can be seen as an artistic creation or installation in
> >>> itself. I think we can all be artists. Participants are encouraged to
> >>> react and articulate their opinion.
> >>>
> >>> How does this fit into my own work? I am neither specifically a
> >>> writer, nor artist, nor philosopher, but use these genres
> >>> simultaneously to make sense of the world, to discover my place within
> >>> it, and to think about what might threaten our most basic need to
> >>> inhabit it. I use art to write philosophy, and I use philosophy to
> >>> inspire the plastic forms of art I make; in between my visual,
> >>> intellectual and phenomenological experiments I hope to invent a
> >>> practical, accessible method for ‘making sense’.
> >>>
> >>> I take academic theory to the creative resources of practising art, in
> >>> the efforts to challenge and invigorate the political scholarship of
> >>> academic discourse through the basic, replenishing and regenerative
> >>> facets of creativity. In this sense I am perhaps a diplomat and
> >>> curator who seeks to arrange and mobilise the emancipatory interface
> >>> that art can offer everyone, whilst trying to confirm and cement this
> >>> chance in the more formal terms of academia.
> >>>
> >>> This is the kind of ethos that lies behind Making Sense the
> >>> collective, which is the emerging group of artists and philosophers
> >>> who came to the first and are coming to the second colloquium. Making
> >>> Sense is bigger than singular events. We are trying to start a
> >>> movement. The Making Sense project, beyond the colloquia, is
> >>> ultimately about founding a communitarian practice, through art, that
> >>> provides a restorative social act. It would be very interesting to
> >>> discuss what that means and how it might be possible…
> >>>
> >>> I look forward to hearing your thoughts...
> >>>
> >>> Lorna
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> 2010/10/10 Renate Ferro <rtf9 at cornell.edu>:
> >>>> Welcome to our October discussion, ³Contextualizing Making Sense. The
> >>>> alignment of criticality and configurations of embodiment and space
> permit
> >>>> creative flows of networks, resources, research and discussions whose
> >>>> configurations prove limitless.
> >>>>
> >>>> Lorna Collins and her team of collaborators have invited Tim and I to
> >>>> represent ­empyre this month at the ³Making Sense Colloquium² at the
> >>>> IRI-Centre Pompidou, Institut Télécom the 19th and 20th of October.
> >>>> http://www.makingsensesociety.org/ <
> http://www.makingsensesociety.org/>
> >>>> Lorna is a theorist and a PhD student at the University of Cambridge
> where
> >>>> she is a Foundation Scholar at Jesus College.  Her academic research
> pushes
> >>>> to forge the development of Making Sense via her research and writing
> but
> >>>> also through various events such as the ³Making Sense² colloquium. The
> >>>> colloquium brings together a wide variety of international theorists
> and
> >>>> artists some of whom will be our guests this month on ­empyre.
> >>>>
> >>>> Both independently and collaboratively, Tim and I have worked between
> the
> >>>> spaces of theory and practice for many years.  Through Tim¹s
> international
> >>>> curating as well as his work in founding and directing the Rose
> Goldsen
> >>>> Archive for New Media Art and in my case the founding and directing of
> The
> >>>> Tinker Factory, an interdisciplinary lab for research and practice we
> have
> >>>> independently found venues for forging theory and practice.  Together
> our
> >>>> collaboration with ­empyre has given us an opportunity to investigate
> the
> >>>> negotiations between theory and practice historically in May 2009 our
> >>>> discussion Critical Motion Practice merged intersections that entailed
> both
> >>>> self-reflective and interactive movement at the intersections of art,
> >>>> choreography, architecture, activism and theory.  Again in September,
> 2007
> >>>> our discussion on Critical Spatial Practice highlighted themes of
> social
> >>>> responsibility at cross-disciplinary intersections.  The questions we
> asked
> >>>> revolved between the technological and critical approaches between
> practice
> >>>> and theory and how those questions empowered creativity, enhanced
> artistic
> >>>> activism and encouraged artistic/performance practice and
> collaboration.
> >>>>
> >>>> We are looking forward to joining the Making Sense participants and
> >>>> anticipate the international online discussion that will evolve with
> our
> >>>> 1400 subscribers. Each week we will highlight a handful of Making
> Sense
> >>>> guests in hopes that their own project descriptions will entice our
> members
> >>>> to add their own ideas and comments.
> >>>>
> >>>> Together collaboratively we are hoping to open up the discussion of
> Making
> >>>> Sense. As an artist my practice involves instincts, whim, research,
> reading,
> >>>> discussion, investigation and critical analysis. When a research
> thread
> >>>> ³makes sense² I assume that my inquiry is finished and the project is
> >>>> finished a cue to proceed to the next.  The act of ³Making Sense²
> implies a
> >>>> search for resolution.  Though in the process of making it is the
> >>>> uneasiness, the questioning, the restlessness, the point that is not
> making
> >>>> sense that excites me to continue.  Welcome to ³Contextualizing Making
> >>>> Sense² or not?
> >>>>
> >>>> We would like to welcome Lorna Collins as our first guest. We will
> begin
> >>>> this month on ­empyre by asking Lorna to answer a few questions for
> our
> >>>> -empyre members.  Can you fill us in a bit more about your own work as
> it
> >>>> relates to the Making Sense Colloquium?   Additionally what can we
> expect
> >>>> from the forum itself coming up in a few weeks?
> >>>>
> >>>> Renate and Tim
> >>>>
> >>>> Renate Ferro
> >>>> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
> >>>> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
> >>>> ,
> >>>> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
> >>>> Cornell University
> >>>> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall
> >>>> Ithaca, NY  14853
> >>>>
> >>>> Co-moderator of _empyre soft skinned space
> >>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> >>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
> >>>>
> >>>> Art Editor, diacritics
> >>>> http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/dia/
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> _______________________________________________
> >>>> 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
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> --
> Lorna Collins
> PhD Candidate: "Making Sense; art practice as a social act"
> Jesus College
> Cambridge
> CB5 8BL
> http://web.me.com/lornacollins/
> http://www.makingsensesociety.org./
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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