[-empyre-] (no subject)

Alessandra Raengo araengo at gsu.edu
Sun Apr 17 00:13:18 AEST 2016

Dear Simon,

liquid blackness is meant to do at least two things, which I have described in this discussion as its two poles:
one the one hand, it is meant to work as a diagnostic tool which helps us understand the tremendous amount of desire and affect that is attached to blackness, even when it is not immediately understood in racial terms (the way it works in Under the Skin, as already discussed, is a great example of that; or, as I have written about, the way it works in Nick Hooker’s video for Grace Jones, Corporate Cannibal: https://vimeo.com/1306326 ). So in this sense, I would not say that liquid blackness is wearable, but rather that it describes fantasies of wearability and immersion. 

On the other hand “liquid blackness”  expresses aesthetic possibilities where blackness is understood to function as an expansive force. Here it can function also as a reading strategy that looks for lines of flight, modes of expansion, experimentation, and so on. It is post-identitarian, not in the sense that it leaves black people behind, but rather in the sense that it is not attached to a representational paradigm.

Since the beginning of this month’s discussion I have been trying to offer a short and snappy version of an essay I wrote to prepare for our first symposium on liquid blackness which had Derek Murray and Hamza Walker as keynotes (Spring 2014). Two weeks into our discussion I realize that there are a lot of moves that essay makes which I cannot summarize without depleting the argument from some of its nuances. So, if you are so inclined, maybe some answers might be found there.

The essay is on our website (under “publications” and it’s contained in LB2), or you can access it through this link:

There I tried to show not only the ambivalence of liquid blackness but also how to move through it, so to speak, in order to perform what I am now beginning to understand might be some type of “immanent critique”. In this sense,  the challenge and the productivity of the idea of "liquid blackness" lies in the fact that it is a “lens” that matches its objects (a terrible metaphor in this case, because it’s not liquid at all) and yet it remains also always in excess of them. 

This is why I believe that, even though one might get the sense that “liquid blackness” is everything and nothing at the same time, or that its ambivalence is so profound that it becomes useless, I actually think that it is something one has to get in the thick of, for it to work as an analytical tool.

I hope this helps. 
I welcome these opportunities for clarification. I hope I was able to provide some


Alessandra Raengo, PhD
Associate Professor, Moving Image Studies
Department of Communication, Georgia State University
PO Box 5060, Atlanta GA 30302-5060
Office: 25 Park Place South, #1010
404 413-5691       
araengo at gsu.edu 

> On Apr 15, 2016, at 6:34 PM, simon <swht at clear.net.nz> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear <<empyreans>>, Derek, Alessandra,
> a question, reentering the discussion, after confer(abs)ence (one that plays in some part into the discussion with its themes, Ritual & Cultural Performance, being a Hui and a Symposium, and having a strong Maori presence, liquidly endarkening ...) ... What, given its ambivalence, given it can suit the individual user or wearer, is liquid blackness meant to do?
> (And in appreciation of the confer(abs)ence of a subject)
> Best,
> Simon
> On 16/04/16 01:45, Derek Murray wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Hi Murat,
>> My apologies for the slow reply.
>> Blackness is a highly contested terminology, so I would say that my
>> definition of it would defer from the other respondents. Perhaps we
>> should individually define it? I suggest asking Tommy, since I was
>> initially responding to his query.
>> Derek
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