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

Penny Florence penny.florence at gmail.com
Wed Oct 13 15:17:32 EST 2010

Many thanks for the great responses to my post. I have to correct the slip,
which is that I seem to have said, "With transformation, there can be no new
politics." Aargh! Of course, I meant, "Without transformation, there can be
no new politics."
I appreciate the serious and extended response from J-b. But I still resist
his premises because over time, I have discovered that even in compromised
places, some very simple strategies work - like bringing together
like-minded people around an issue of common passionate interest. An analogy
might be with some of the pressurised inner-city, usually disenfranchised,
groups who have made gardens in "brownfield" sites in defiance of the
corporations, who are then confronted with having to destroy the gardens. It
is a mistake to assume that the "powerless" groups don't know what they are
up against. But they do what they want to do anyway. The empowerment that
this brings is always fleeting - but for some, it will be their first
glimpse of a different economy. (Remember the flowers in the gun-barrel of a
That is an experiential intervention in the materiality of production. It is
about according due value to how you go about things. Institutions,
especially the major universities, are wonderfully heterogeneous. It is a
point of distributed power that they can't function as "centres of
excellence" and "world-class research" without pockets of small-scale
creativity, corporatise (if such a word exists) as they will.
I'm not going to say anything more along these lines because I want to
discuss with you all the specifics of what Making Sense is doing, and some
of what I think my collaboration with John is about in that context.
Everything we are doing has some basis in the work into which it
intervenes. Mallarmé's very famous remark, that everything, in the world,
exists to end in a book ("tout, au monde, existe pour aboutir à un livre")
is as much about the nature of the materiality of signification as it is
about grand generalisations. The essay in which he said this was "Le livre,
instrument spirituel" - this from an atheist, well-read in the Kabbalah,
close friend of painters who were remaking the philosophy - and/through
articulation - of vision. Read the sonnet "Ses purs ongles ..." with this
mind. When Mallarmé writes about the effect of light in relation to "the
idea" we are in some very strange territory, over 100 years ago.
What difference does it make that the nature of our materiality has so much
changed since then? Hypothesising his "book" as both talisman and internet
certainly makes me think hard about net art and language, not as
abstractions, but as embodied event. Working between languages and
orthographic systems in one space (the screen) at the same time as being
able to join a number of performers and makers in a simultaneous act of
reading and making posits a kind of subject-in-language that is
And so to bed!
(ps - yes, you do miss the point immediately below, J-b. I say that Lorna's
is a genuine move out of dualism, while recognising what may well have been
historical necessity. I'm glad to be beyond that phase of feminism, but I'm
not going to dismiss it out of hand. I would refrain from dismissing any
serious movement.)

On 12 October 2010 14:59, Jean-baptiste Labrune <labrune at media.mit.edu>wrote:

> 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.
> Yep,
> 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
> http://web.media.mit.edu/~labrune/
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://mail.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20101012/e5388cfc/attachment.html>

More information about the empyre mailing list