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

Baruch Gottlieb bg at transmediale.de
Sat Feb 11 22:10:50 EST 2012

so many references in your response I could not possibly engage them all...

On Feb 10, 2012, at 3:50 PM, Gabriel Menotti wrote:

>>  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.

to my mind we are not yet finished with the old metaphysics.  I have not yet read or heard a 'new' metaphysics which was not just metaphysics couched in new terms or frames. e.g Harman's talk at tm.
> 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,
(by local scholars, you mean latin american ones? (isea 2010 was in Dortmund after all...)
I suppose you are right... but Zielinski probably knows enough about scholars by now not to expect too much.  Academics are European.  Academic institutions are European. Despite any intentions of impartiality or non-interference, all academic study is colonization, for better or worse. The question is whether non-academic or alternative educational systems study can be valorized today, and that is something  of much interest to Zielinski.  We see this in his strong inquiry into early Chinese and Arab letters. Of course this question has been for ages very pertinent to the alternative health sector, and recently for initiatives such as the Public School. 

> given all the
> Amerindian deep-time technologies that could deserve the attention of
> academia (quipus, doomsday calendars, sacrificial football matches,
> etc).
do they really have doomsday calendars? you mean 2012? I though that was just a mathematical limit which had been apocalyptically misinterpreted/misappropriated...
> 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.
well.. even if it is not hyped it is (of all things) fashionable, see music videos, steam punk, etc. 
> 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?  
I , like Johannes, am somewhat baffled by this statement...
> Otherwise (and as usual running the risk of stretching a metaphor too
> far), is it possible to instrumentalize intoxication in one’s own
> favour?
who's favour are you expecting to curry here?
>> 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
> affairs?
Of course, personal commitment and engagement with one's real convictions will lead to better understanding and thereby competence.
> 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?
I imagine you are asking about how I resolve academic and artistic practice.  To this, I can only say that I have come to academics relatively late. Therefore its 'raison d'etre' is not self-evident.  When I started my master's degree I was already a professor having to advise doctoral students with only a bachelor's degree albeit with years of artistic practice, Personally, a certain academic rigour helps me recognize the difference between what I know and what I believe. It helps apocalypse what I really think, and this in a historical context where I can better understand my political, and thereby cross-(and/or extra-)institutional, positions and prospects. 

> Best!
> Menotti

> 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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Baruch Gottlieb ::: Digital Archive Project
in/compatible // transmediale 2012, 31 Jan - 5 Feb 2012 // transmediale.de

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