[-empyre-] the pitfalls of trendy theory and popular art projects

Gabriel Menotti gabriel.menotti at gmail.com
Sat Feb 11 01:50:17 EST 2012

>  To call anarchaeology a 'boat' would imply that he was expecting it to take
> him somewhere, and it would seem it has. [Baruch Gottlieb]

Hahah, I was using the metaphor quite loosely, but your remark evokes
the story (told by Zielinski in DTotM) of how a detour/delay in a ship
voyage led Athanasius Kircher to “fortuitous finds” that would become
the basis for a whole new metaphysics.

I have the impression that Zielinski does admirable efforts to
resist/escape the premises set by his own work. I remember him telling
people off (on a panel during ISEA2010) for clinging on to that same
Kircher as a reference for a "variantologia latina." I figure he was
expecting something else from the local scholars, given all the
Amerindian deep-time technologies that could deserve the attention of
academia (quipus, doomsday calendars, sacrificial football matches,

On the other hand, although Kircher might not be a novelty for the
large field of media studies anymore, I believe he can still be a
"fortuitous finding" able to change the trajectory of a particular
research project. (Unfortunately the only illustration of this that
comes to my head is the rather gloomy dumping of old devices in
third-world countries, where these devices are still cutting-edge
technology.) Johannes comment made me wonder how popular media
archaeology really is nowadays. I clearly feel the hype around the
subject, but that might be my own bias, being personally interested on
it and having spent quite some time chasing references.

If hype is indeed intoxication, how closely it stands to
self-intoxication? Is it possible to be mistaking a Baader-Meinhoff
phenomenon for the commodification of theory? One’s past with
everyone’s else?

Otherwise (and as usual running the risk of stretching a metaphor too
far), is it possible to instrumentalize intoxication in one’s own

>How can we face this [the e-waste problem, etc] while
>still inexorably being brought into an ever more intensively
>technologized environment? […] Only genuine personal
>implication and research will help to transform the one person
>who can be affected by it. [BG]

It seems like a very reasonable strategy to promote another way of
engaging with the e-waste problem, instead of merely renewing the
public awareness about it. Do you believe any issue (e.g. research
topic) could profit from this more committed form of knowledge, or
would it be necessary only when dealing with inherently contradictory

Finally, Baruch, I feel tempted to ask you the same that I asked
Cesar: given the incommensurability of the subjects you deal with, how
do you manage to bring your projects into academic forms, such as
papers or a thesis?

Or, on the contrary, would you see these academic forms as “mere"
parts of larger critical projects?


Em 9 de fevereiro de 2012 21:27, Johannes Birringer
<Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> escreveu:
> dear all
> sorry I am behind a day or two, need to thank Menotti for replying to my post and giving us more
> background on the past seminars on "incompatible research practices", and then you mention, to my
> surprise –  but then again, i was not in Berlin – that the theme of incompatibility (or "in/compatibility")
> got "abused" during the Transmediale Festival.
> you write:
> Taking a step in getting rid of the concept, one could ask how relevant (or: operationally useful) it is to frame any issue (or: technical challenge) as a dilemma of compatibility.
>  Of either belonging or not? Being part or being apart? Isn't this a sort of teenage anxiety? (Here some joke relating peer-reviewing to peer-pressure could fit :P).
> and you ask later,
> Do you think there is anything particular in artistic practice that allows it to employ ambiguous strategies,
> or would these strategies be within the reach of anyone – such as academic researchers or technicians?
> i should think the answer to the latter question is obvious, one hardly thinks of artists to be privileged
> or particularly cunning, when it comes to in/compatibilities, but what surprised me as well, then,
> was the reference made, almost on the same day, to "media archaeology" being a fashion and "inordinately hyped"
> (Baruch).
> on the island where I work, also during seasons too cold, that has not been the news, at least forgive my ignorance,
> i had only come across Siegfried Zielinski's "Deep Time of the Media- Toward an Archaeolgy of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means"
> a short time ago, maybe in 2008, and later read about Erkki Huhtamo, but this is quite fresh and stimulating, for
> people working in performance and performing arts, and not recycled and decycled yet.
> am i the only one who questions this?  I am also not sure that incompatibility is fashionable research, I had not come across
> it yet under that lighting.
> I did see an interesting small exhibit last night amongst the clutter and the many lovely works at KINETICA Art Fair in London
> [http://www.kinetica-artfair.com/];   its producer team's title struck me as unusual  (Boredom Research), the context intriguing
> (honoring the memory of Alan Turing), the work itself, small and subtle, was called "Fragments of Lost Flight" (2011), and
> connection to Turing not clear to me yet.
> probably a conceptual performance trick, this ambiguous strategy.
> peace
> Johannes Birringer
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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