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

Jean-baptiste Labrune labrune at media.mit.edu
Wed Oct 13 08:59:07 EST 2010

Le 12 oct. 10 à 18:06, Penny Florence a écrit :

> 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.

I don't understand you here. Do you say that the move here is to think  
that Art is a space to create sense by opposition to the rest of the  
world where the sense is "blocked" ? This does not seems like a new  
idea to me, but I maybe miss your point.

In the context of Pompidou and powerful friends (autoritative spaces  
that define "culture" like Cambridge, NYU and the other sponsors of  
this event) it seems to me that it is more the contrary that happens,  
i.e. that institutions try to post-rationalise their values thanks to  
compliant artists and intellectuals that can talk about everything as  
long as it is not about the institution itself or its politi.

The IRI/Pompidou, like many intellectual and transdisciplinary  
research center in Paris receive generous support of the MAIC complex  
(Stiegler's research is for example very often funded by Cap Digital,  
directed by people from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagard%C3%A8re_Group 
  ). Like the situation of printed media where it is now rare to have  
independant publications, it is now rare, especially in new media art  
and experimental practices to avoid these kind of compromises. In the  
US, the amazing Darpa funded ICT are great example of these  
collusions. (more on MAIC see Nick Knouf's http://maicgregator.org )

I am not here to judge about the moral implications of these  
relationships, but I think that this issue of money and also the need  
for branding prevents artists of being reflective in their practice  
when it comes to addressing the system that sustain them. This leads  
very often to an aesthetics that is a *Decorum* more than a reflexive,  
sense-making process and privileges "autonomous" experiments since  
they are fictive, imaginary productions. A bit like in Design where it  
is always more politically correct to talk about the "future" than  
confronting the present (and I know quite a bit about this particular  
example since I lived 2 years in the future while in boston :)))

Penny, Lorna, I follow you at 1K% when you celebrate the poïesis that  
Art practices allow compared to bleak intricated social situations.  
However, the premise of your event and the fact that it is  
specifically co)organised  with the IRI cannot be put aside if you are  
an artist, since non-artist expect you to be somehow aware of your  
situation in the world if you say that you are interested in the socio- 
political implications of your artefacts. And yes, yes, of course you  
can also decide to go the other way, the cynical one like Damien  
Hirst  :)

> 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.

Well, I see here a tension between the desire of "painting on the  
shoulder of giants" and your claim for the auto-nomy of the art work.  
I thaught that Making Sense was an attempt to bind current (modern)  
discussions with the history of Arts, epistemology and maybe to tap  
into the cultural study reservoir shaped - among other - by french  
po(ï)ets like Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze & Guattari & their machines,  
maybe Varela, etc, etc. As my colleague Olivier Mauco at Omnsh (french  
digital human sciences association) remarked last week, the idea of  
autonomy of an artwork or any symbolic system (PAZ, TAZ, etc) is a  
very old debate in sociology, current conceptions would be more around  
the idea of non-regulated zones that are waiting to be structured by  
external forces. If according to your idea of autonomy of art work Art  
is a fictum, a pure creation used as an illustrative vehicle of sense,  
then how to translate its narrative to complex socio-material  
situations when you are englued in institutional frameworks ?

In addition, the alibi of "autonomy" is often used to actually refuse  
to confront to any similar or precedent works or experiences leading  
sometimes to the re-creation again and again of the same under a "new"  
name. I am thinking here for instance how the "relational aesthetics"  
defined either by Fred Forest or Nic Bourillaud was used to justify  
everything and its contrary. Sure, epistemic confusion could be an art  
form but then we enter a field originated hundred year ago and now  
recuperated by advertisment and spin-doctoring than navigating on  
somehow rigourous intellectual practices... Like you, I believe that  
it is necessary to go beyond the idea of "revolution" or simple  
agonistic critique. I am not sure though that these experimental  
thoughts are easy when you put so much idols around you neck (cultural  
studies, ranciere, stiegler, pompidou,etc, etc...) since their own  
situation (coherence of their narrative, institutional constraints)  
usually does not position them as "transformative".

> 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.

lapsus ? ;)

I am myself very interested myself in understanding how to benefit  
from the last 50 years of research of alternatives to antagonistic and  
revolutionnary thinking without celebrating again and again the  
classic system of power and order of the - often male dominated -  
institutional mesh that we all love so much. Last year, I spend some  
times with kristof wodiczko, and I think he is an exemple of a career  
transformed by institutions and social encounters when its artworks  
adressed precisely the antagonistic dilemma and the critics of  
critics. Kristof, like the Bruno, Bernard, etc, etc of the world (in  
Art School, New Schools, Medialabs) not only talk about their  
experimental practices as researchers but also have political and  
institutional duties that I believe create a tabou gap in contrast to  
their "thinking". Scarcity of positions and funding often invites  
compromises, a classic result of sociopolitical organisms, and for the  
naif that I am does not help to understand how their fiction  
articulates with reality since they prescribe but do not follow. On  
the other hand of the spectrum of antagonistic-revolutionary  
alternative I think that either classic university based intellectuals  
(chantal mouffe) or autonomous newmedia/art groupes ( http://incident.net/theupgrade/politique0/ 
  ) can inspire artists to not only again and again try to situate  
experimental practices in institutions but to be able to talk without  
sponsors. And yes, there is always a sponsor, but can it tolerates to  
be criticised or does it buy your complaisance ? On this topic, see  
the excellent http://www.newpatrons.eu/

> 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":
> 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.

This looks very interesting, do you know if this event will be  
recorded or streamed ?

> 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.

Are you planning to perform during this event ? Also, did you attend  
Latour re-enactment of Durkheim-Tarde debate? this was very pre- 
modern :))

> I look forward to your responses.

Cheers, and bon courage for the organisation of the event,
Jb (who unfortunately cannot join you IRL this time)

> 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
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre


Jean-Baptiste Labrune
MIT Media Lab
20 Ames St E14-464C
Cambridge, MA 02139, USA


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