5 Oct 2017

McKenzie Wark: My Collectible Ass

As Sianne Ngai suggests, one of the main aesthetic categories of our time, in part advanced by Conceptual art, is the interesting (Adam Jasper and Sianne Ngai, “Our Aesthetic Categories: An Interview with Sianne Ngai,” Cabinet 43 [Fall 2011]). Conceptual art took over from the realist novel the job of making more or less organized archives or dossiers of information interesting. Perhaps that is why art today has moved on from being orderings of interesting information, to being interesting ways of ordering information. So perhaps the avant-garde of collecting is now a question of interesting ways of collecting the act of collecting itself. Which should make digital art eminently collectible, to the extent that it is interesting. But it might in the end be uninteresting for the digital art object merely to mimic the forms of collectability of previous classes of art object.

McKenzie Wark "My Collectible Ass" e-Flux #85 (October 2017)


26 Aug 2017

Before Pictures

23 Jul 2017

RATM Killing in the Name

7 Jun 2017


22 Mar 2017


17 Feb 2017

What use is the imagination?

Spivak's formulation of an aesthetic education addresses the problem of bringing subaltern people into representation without turning them into objects of knowledge or native-informant-style subjects of oral histories (60). She demands of us an ethical responsibility toward "the other" by resisting a humanist episteme that presupposes the other to be identical with the self. At the same time, she cautions against letting our intellectual enterprise be guided by a will to knowledge that equates the ethical with a desire to know. Proposing that the other must be imagined as both self and other, a logical impossibility, she characterizes the aporia or logical impasse in this form of imagining as a double bind that has to be negotiated rather than resolved. Its figure is the "quite-other," which, as a catachresis or imperfect metaphor, draws atten- tion to the absence of a match between who we imagine the other to be and the wholly other that cannot be approximated.

While the term catachresis signals an imperfect fit between a figure and what it represents, the role of the imagination is not to close the gap but to draw attention to the inadequacy of representation in the very need for an appeal to the imagination. "By definition," writes Spivak, "we cannot-no self can-reach the quite-other. Thus the ethical situation can only be figured in the ethical experience of the imp'ossible" (97-98). She transforms intellectual practices from a will to knowledge into a willingness to learn, from gathering more data· about the other into a suspension of the knowing self. Only then, she argues, will we be able to consider rural women of the global South as capable of "creation and innovation" and "strategy toward us" (31, 60).


Spivak's deployment of the term aesthetic education is intended to demonstrate that poetry and philosophy are about not only truth and beauty but also politics and ethics. Her invoking of the ethical imperative in the aesthetic is a strategic response to what she calls "the trivialization of the humanities and the privatization of the imagination" in the university (Aesthetic Education xv). Although the Enlightenment is also driven toward science, reason, and information, an aesthetic education does not reconcile the double bind of a marginalization of the humanities by uncritically embracing this drive (11). Nor does it reverse the hierarchy by favoring the humanities over science and technology. Despite her advocacy of literary studies as reading practices that can resist the totalizing logic of globalization, Spivak is not promoting literature as a privileged site oftruth and knowledge. To believe that she is would be to lose sight of the imagination as a conduit for an ethical experience of what we cannot know.

Jenny Sharpe "What Use Is the Imagination?" PMLA (2014) 512 - 517.

6 Feb 2017

Bling Bling

Let us imagine that “black lives matter” is a scandalous, even decadent claim, characterized, as the definition has it, by excess or luxury. One cannot understand this decadence outside of a certain moral politico-philosophical economy. If the virtues of restraint, industriousness, thriftiness have tended to be characterized as white, blackness is often construed as a desiring in whose meaning excess, or luxury, signifies a sociocultural impoverishment that is morally bankrupt. This trope takes on the amplitude of an all-encompassing theme in the discourse of anti-blackness in the West. It compels a view of blackness that, in relation to sovereign life, reveals an experience of excess enjoyed beyond consummation and one that is socially irresponsible. So what of this extravagant expenditure itself? If claiming “black lives matter” is to risk a certain exorbitance, this is not because there is any certainty about the meaning of black life, but because asserting that black life matters foregrounds those attributes by which blackness is assumed to have a value in culture. Black is a being that is somehow both useless and endlessly driven by consummation: bling bling.

This “decadence” rests on a twofold movement: unless blackness is put to work as the figure of endless, unproductive labor, its “natural” course will assert itself as an exaggeratedly inflated figure of inflation; or, rather, the way that blackness puffs itself up when possessed of capital is actually a sign of decadent inutility, as in the case of an excess noteworthy for its unproductive labor: bling bling. Since whiteness is therefore the privileged figure of productive capital, it represents, paradoxically, not only the limit that separates production from conspicuous consumption but also what separates racial wealth from racial poverty.

David Marriott "On Decadence: Bling Bling" e-flux Journal #79 February 2017

23 Jan 2017

The Value of Liveliness

Painting not only compresses life- and labor time, but allows us to experience both simultaneously in a way where it can but doesn't have to appeal to us. If we dislike the work we can turn our gaze away from it.

Isabelle Graw "The Value of Liveliness" Painting Beyond Itself: The Medium in the Post-medium Condition" Eds. Isabelle Graw and Ewa Lajer-Burcharth (Frankfurt: Sternberg Press 2016) 100.

20 Jan 2017

Are you free?

30 Dec 2016

Political Agency

In terms of political agency, subjection, or empowerment do not depend on the rejection of technologies in the name of nature, but rather on the differential use and reappropriation of the very techniques of the production of subjectivity. No political power exists without control over production and distribution of gender brocades. Pharmacopornographic emancipation of subaltern bodies can be measured only according to the production, circulation and interpretation of somato-politic brocades.

Paul B. Preciado Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era Trans Bruce Benderson (NY: Feminist Press 2013) 128.

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