[-empyre-] screen and desire/stepping out of the frame

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Jul 25 06:09:39 EST 2012

dear all

how to track back from the psychoanalytic to the political philosophy (or architectural philosophy) that Aristide, to my surprise, brought up here in the discussion on Monday?
there may very well be close connections, too, between the two, but it took me a little while to ponder Aristide' commentary on how "the architectures of gaming are characterized by the limits of the game, the structures of its interior space and the concepts of its exterior...." and what he critically made of the distinction between the screenic (if that is how he read our discussion via Badiou and B's divide between facts and events) and the action, acting, building, forming interaction etc beyond the screen. We have not really discussed visions of the beyond the screen yet, or have we?

I am not well read in Badiou, so cannot reply to a concern with [his] events and facts. But I take it that Aristide worries about cities (and the troubled times in Athens, Greece) and is looking at architectures through the lens of gaming cultures (and games of course would involve screens, desire and fantasy). Or, proposing that architecture and its discourses are significant sites for a public production of knowledge and poliitics?

In terms of a media archaeology (or anarchaeology, as Zielinski called it at one point), on screens and technique, function, and fantasy, it actually strikes me as remarkable that architects, after World War II, invited philosophers to address this need for public production, for new building (reconstruction after a traumatic war and after a period of horrendous fascism), and for new terms to discuss dwelling and living  ("Education through Form," "Man and Space" were some of the titles of the Darmstadt Colloquia in thew 50s).  I am reading a book on the reception history of the Bauhaus (Jeffrey Saletnik/Robin Schuldenfrei, eds., Bauhaus Construct: Fashioning Identity, Discourse and Modernism", London 2009), and one of the chapters mentions how Bloch, Adorno, and Heidegger addressed the architects in the 1950s and debated ideas of ornament and function.

Curiously –  and thank you, Scott, for your incisive comments on the mass ornament in your recent post, and for bringing Nathalie Bookchin's 'mass ornament' video to our attention ––  I found an intriguing passage from Adorno commenting on the ornament: 

In his speech, "Functionalism Today," Adorno breaks down the distinction between ornament and function, pushing it through a historical dialectic. Function, he argues, is not only external but is first and foremost a matter of immanent, artistic function, within the logic of the work itself. What was once functional can become, internally, unncessarym superfluous, and ornamental, when its logic is no longer necessary to internal coherence. The functional and the functionless are historically intertwined. Adorno then writes of the ornament as "scars of superseded modes of production."  the non-functional [external?] is given new credibility as the "sublimation" of function.  (cf. Bauhaus Cosntruct, p. 64).

The "democratic drama,"  invoked by Scott,  and in extension the Blochian utopia of a home that we cannot find, a game we cannot play.  can now indeed be critiqued at being played out at the "limits of contemporary exhortations for self-performance as self-improvement" - am in  understanding you correctly, Scott?     But is then fantasy (gaming culture, Batman?) our hope for non-useful innervation?  I think not, and as I was trying to suggest earlier, I worry
that interactivity is precisely not what we can assume to bring greater participatory freedom or provide stronger political affect. 

Aristide wrote me saying " Badiou always disregards facts, and privileges events; outside the game, outside the frame is the field of exception and there is the field of what interests politics for him. I do not agree. I think that the most difficult thing is to form norms, not exceptions. I think the culture of gaming may help towards this direction."

How are we to understand your call to deliberate forming norms, are you thinking of social/political negotiations, for example about how we want to live, how we engage local governments or communitarian projects, how we might screen banks and our security forces who screen us, how we become pirates and vote for the Pirate party, how we occupy urban space or share rural space, how we debate [?] fantasy archiectures, etc?  How is gaming related to politics in your view?


Johannes Birringer

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