[-empyre-] spatial flow

Lauren Michelle Cramer lmcleod2 at mygsu.onmicrosoft.com
Thu Apr 28 06:07:48 AEST 2016

Johannes, thank you for your questions and to Sarah, thank you for another stunning post. 

First a point of clarity-- I do not want to suggest there is weightlessness available for the black body even when terms like liquidity or suspension seem to evoke images of effortless or uninhibited movement. Instead, I am interested in how the pliant materials and flexibility that is part of the post-modern architecture that you describe may be the form of the suspension of disbelief.  

I am happy to have the opportunity to clarify this point because I think it helps connect my work to Sarah’s post. I am interested in identifying the architectural logics of forms of black cultural expression because it is a radical act to gather, sing, dance, rap, build, etc. within the space of dispossession that defines the spatiality of blackness. To me, committing to living in homelessness is part of what Sarah calls “crazy Black social life.” Any form of relationality within this space would mean suspending blackness between the poles of social death and (an inaccessible) political life. 

I would argue that architectural theory is already invested in race, even when it is not mentioned, because of its emphasis on rationality and solving the problem of housing (protecting the body). So I am trying to make architecture a reading strategy for hip-hop visual culture, where some of these “mad” designs can actually be constructed.  For example, I am particularly attracted to the glare or ‘bling’ of hip-hop music videos produced in the mid-1990s because their glare allowed images of black artists to be reflected until they fill the cinematic space. These videos are criticized in hip-hop culture for their superficiality, but to me they are exciting because they are not insisting on black humanity by rejecting histories of commodification. Instead, they mimic the schizophrenic appearance of architectural hypersurfaces (i.e. morphing, screen-based, commercial architectures like Times Square). As a result, these video images glide between vapidity and fullness. Consider one of the biggest hip-hop stars during the time, Puff Daddy, who renamed himself again and again over the course of his career. The artist and producer is a marketing genius, but I would like to put public relations aside--in these videos it looks like Puff Daddy is dancing beside his many monikers: Puffy, P. Diddy, and Diddy and these reflected images are not entirely under the control of the artist. That is crazy, but it is also a celebration. 

Lauren M. Cramer
Doctoral Student, Moving Image Studies
Associate Editor, InMediaRes
Editorial Board, liquid blackness
Department of Communication
Georgia State University
From: empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> on behalf of Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 1:26 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] spatial flow

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

thanks for the first postings this week from you all, Sarah's last one will take many hours to ponder and grasp,...

may I go back and thank the first two postings by Lauren and Sarah on spatiality and gathering/ungathering (can't wait to hear Kameron on racial
capitalism's fraudulent communions and gatherings).

my question is more mundane, in the spirit of our discussion on dance/movement and
space (and someone just posted Tommy deFrantz on facebook dancing virtually on a wall at
Detroit Institute of Arts, a projected dance that makes him look tall and elongated and distorted)

Lauren, what is gained by racialized space or thinking of the physics or the "laws" of suspension?
(<< you wrote: spaces can be racialized by the bodies and objects that move through them. My work on blackness and architecture tries to recognize
 how a space can be designed with the spatial logics of blackness (i.e. curvilinearity and continuity, the appearance of transparency, and kinds of surface appeal).

I love the poetic sensibilities in the writing I saw this week, both in Lauren's and Sarah's. From an architectural or scenographic point of view, suspension
yes is related to tension (and tensegrity, as think some architects now ponder flexinamics and bent or curvable dynamic space, built space that can move
or behave reacting to presences in the atmospheric environment, human or non human objects moving through, across, as across suspended bridges?),
but what is it in your view on black/spatiality that makes you think of inconsequential lightness, or heaviness?

what actual forms are produced?  and even from ballet we know of course that moving bodies (black or not black) cannot be weightless? we cannot flow away
that is the problem.. we shall (need to) be gathered?

Johannes Birringer

empyre forum
empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au

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