[-empyre-] "(E)MOTION FREQUENCY deceleration: time/space prospection, vacant lots

sergio basbaum sbasbaum at gmail.com
Thu Oct 27 13:54:09 EST 2011

Hi Johannes,

Thank for your wise comments. Indeed, myself I felt a bit
unconfortable when I wrote those lines. However, I must then defend
myself. Certainly, it should not be understood as futility -- as you
read it, not without reason -- but as a way of re-signifying spaces.
We had a place which was empty and would be demolished in a matter of
days -- in fact it is already being demolished. I must say, in my
defense, that I was the first to point, in the debates, these
questions regarding people that had to leave their places, the
predatory nature of late-capitalism, the traces of those people`s
lives let in there. In fact, I've even asked people not to change
anything before we had a clear concept of how to ocupy such spaces in
a meaningfull way.

Because of this, the previous owner of the place, himself a historian,
lectured to all the group about all the meanings and memories involved
with the place, built by his grandfather, a portuguese imigrant, with
his own hands.

To make things a little more complex, those small houses built by this
immigrant 70 years ago, in his weekends, were previously rent by
low-middle class workers families, and this neighbourhood, Vila
Madalena, which was characterized 10 years ago by a mix of artists,
intelectuals and low-middle class families, will be reduced to a
high-middle class neighbourhood, while the previous people will have
to move to far away suburbs, This was very disturbing to me since the

It seems, however, that people just accept it as natural, and maybe
this is the most serious question. In this context, I placed in a wall
a poem which radically discussed this matter of commodities, of
everrything, including people, seeming to have a price.
Unfortunatally, the way words were used in Portuguese is not possible
to translate -- the word "venda" being at the same time "selling" and
"blindfolding the eyes".
As a complement to this poem, I made this small work, exploring this
hole. One coleague compared it to Yoko Ono's work, famously described
by John Lennon, the stairs one would climb and find the word "yes".
For me, it was a way to explore poetically a space which would
otherwise rest unnoticed, and turn it into an art experience. John
Cage once said he preferred laughter to tears -- indeed, people played
and laughed; however, to read the writings in the acrylic piece, one
had to roll the reel for some time, and some people would not go until
the end, they would not invest themselves enough in the experience,
they didn't have faith enough. Furthermore, the whole work was done
with old things which were "recycled" into the work. In terms of
plasticity, it was very singular, ingenious and low tech -- this was
much Tereza's work, who developed it in one night.

Thus, by creating this piece, we didn't destroy the memories left in
the place, we gave meaning to this unnoticed hole, and created a small
and poetic (I believe so) experience out of nothing. By the end, I
regard this as also political. Maybe we should do, everybody, as a
group there, something more radical, politically speaking? It's so
complicate: we didn't have time to think or organize too much, since
we've known about this houses and their demolishing two weeks ago. And
the houses were sold by a friend's grandmother, an old woman who will
live her last years with this money -- the old dwellers had already
left one month ago or more, nobody knew where they had gone. And the
whole movement, the performances that took place there had shown to
this group of artists a new way of acting, outside art instituitions,
that may continue; and, who knows, can turn into something more
conceptually bruising. But that was a start, and possibly the begining
of something really interesting.

Concerning the problems of art and science, I have posed some beliefs
very openly here. I don't have nothing against any art strategy one
may choose. Robert Smithson, for example, made important works
inspired by scientific theory, and many more. My questions concern the
notion of truth as being exclusive domain of science practices.

I feel this as highly political -- if we live with the idea that
there's one and only objective truth determining our world, this is
not a world, but an anthill,t  so I cannot trust any complete
explanation and everything.

 best vibes from Brazil


On Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 7:27 PM, Johannes Birringer
<Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:

> dear all
> something struck me in Sérgio's post, and i think want to bring up the particular passage on "prospecting" here, also hoping that Sonja will perhaps continue her fascinating thread from last week, which she ended by suggesting
> "Imagine (e)motional deceleration as a notion of urbanity".......... and she will be joined by Branden Hookway and his perspectives on time, architecture and predatory late capitalism....
> I think it is quite possible (and there is nothing mystifying about it) to link physics, philosophy, dance and architecture, and in fact Jaime del Val has given us some powerful conceptual tools in his manifesto on disorientation (s/he favors non-linear time, and dis-affection from cartesian binaries and postivist science).   I shall also quote from Michael Bell's book "Slow Space" at the bottom*, but here is the passage from Sérgio's urban intervention.
>>> Sérgio writes
> A lot of changes are going on the city here, because of all
> the money that's going on in Brazil. As result of the devastating
> power of money interests, architectural and urban memories are just
> being destroyed, regardless of the meaning of those places and spaces
> and people's life and history related. Myself, I presented two simple
> works: a poem dealing with the question of commodities  (and ourselves
> as commodities); and a work I've done with my wife, taking advantage
> of a 4mts deep small hole which the engeneering company has made to
> test the ground -- since they will raise a building there. So we've
> put there a reel which people had to roll, and by the end of the line
> a small acrylic piece brough two short sentences: "art is something
> deep", and "art is prospection". People were interested, they played
> it and they laughed. It was really nice. And some really nice
> performance works of young  collectives also took place there in the
> weekend.
> I wondered about it just as i marveled at Biyo Kikuchi's butoh performance on the street (i sent the picture the other day), "From Listening,"  and what struck me was the sense of poetic futility. (I had tried to describe this at an earlier point, a few years ago, when i heard about Francis Alÿs  and his performance in Peru,  "Cuando la fe mueve montañas" (2002-3).  He called the work a "social allegory,"  i would think of it as an immensely futile gesture.
> Jaime del Val is currently here with us in London, having arrived from Dublin where he attended an event called "TRANSFORMING HUMAN NATURE In Science, Technology and the Arts" (http://www.transformingthehuman.org/), and he mentioned some hard-core transhuman utopianists working in their labs on various enhancements. Jaime performed a workshop on "microsexes/microdances" which put in action some of the concepts posted here, and it was heartening to experience;  and yet, metaformance is also a part of fluid complex social choreographies that it seeks to affect (and is affected by), it can be absorbed or it can be marginalized, vacated, vacuumed, it will wonder the vacant lots,  but here I may be too pessimistic, just like Scott Taylor was last week having given up on ethics and morality, and culture as such........
> Jaime tells us of the occupation movement in Madrid, and today visited the occupiers in London at St Paul's.
> Sérgio, art is prospection?  unable to occupy but to make people laugh?    are you sure?  or of course you are ironic (like Alÿs).
> What, then, to do with/against the "devastating power of money interests, architectural and urban memories are just being destroyed, regardless of the meaning of those places and spaces and people's life and history related"?
> with regards
> Johannes Birringer
> *"Slow Space (edited by Michael Bell) was formed in and by abandoned spaces - the vacancies that, by having become the unintended archetype of contemporary urbanism, coerce an evolution of conventional visuality and inhabitation. The comprehension of an urban condition rendered through processes - machinic, regulatory, managerial - thus resides in the temporal. These durations, imbricated with the variable flows of the metropolis, form the medium for the twenty-three essays and projects that make up "Slow Space."  [This book represents an attempt to make time material, and an effort to find an architecture and a practice that engages and catalytically reconfigures the spaces and processes of the contemporary city.]
> It would be great to hear Michael reflecting on Slow Space, some years after he wrote/edited the book in 1997-98.
> **  Footnote to Akram's work at CERN and the accelerator.
> IT was just announced that we not got:  "Prix Ars Electronica Collide at CERN" – the new international competition for digital artists to win a residency at CERN the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva. It is the first prize to be announced as part of the new Collide at CERN artists residency programme initiated by the laboratory. This new prize marks a 3 year science/arts cultural partnership and creative collaboration between CERN and Ars Electronica – which began with CERN’s cooperation with Origin – the Ars Electronica Festival in 2011. The aim of the Prix Ars Electronica Collide at CERN prize is to take digital creativity to new dimensions by colliding the minds of scientists with the imaginations of artists. In this way, we seek to accelerate innovation across culture in the 21st century – creating new dimensions in digital arts, inspired by the ideas, engineering and science generated at CERN, and produced by the winning artist in collaboration with the transdisciplinary expertise of the FutureLab team at Ars Electronica.
> ***  CERN was indeed featured this year at ars electronica, in a small exhibition, part of the larger theme ORIGIN (http://www.aec.at/origin/en/about/).
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-- Prof. Dr. Sérgio Roclaw Basbaum
-- Vice-coord. Tecnologia e Mídias Digitais
-- Pós-Graduação Tec.da Inteligência e Design Digital - TIDD (PUC-SP)

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