Friday, December 17, 2010

New Post at Burnaway

The fine folks that make BURNAWAY have published my review of gloATL & Luminocity Atlanta's Hinterland.

Profuse thanks to Jeremy Abernathy and Rachel Chamberlain for their excellent editorial guidance!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adrian Smith's YouCut Video Is Wrong About NSF

I called Congressman Smith's office (202) 225-6435, spoke with "Nate" and asked him to forward this message:

My wife risks her life everyday conducting research that brings hope to the families of those stricken with neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Parkinson's disease (PD).

She is a postdoctoral fellow at the leading PD research lab in the world. It's not in Japan (we've worked there), and it's not in New Zealand (she's worked there, too), and it's not in Italy (where another researcher actually memorized my wife's paper and quoted it to her at a recent conference). The best lab in the world for what she does is here, in the U.S.

And it is the U.S. that continues to lead in scientific innovation because of the nature of the funding structures that exists at places like NIH, NIDA, and NSF.

The funding mechanisms in the U.S. work well. If you ask any scientist that's worth their salt, they will tell you that they actively seek more public participation in the process of research innovation and creation. That's what Cornell's Doug James and Northwestern's Luis Amaral (the two scientists whose work is singled-out in the above video) even said in this article.

My wife's research is dangerous. Everyday she could potentially die from conducting her research. Her colleagues are regularly threatened and intimated by activists. In fact, at the recent Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, there was a bomb threat at her hotel.

When people learn that my wife's a neuroscientist they tend to think that she's two things: 1) a neurosurgeon and 2) rich. She is neither. She would make more money if she was managing a coffee shop.

So why should she risk being killed by the work she does, or being killed by some disgruntled populist? She'll quietly tell you that she does this work because she believes in serving the greater good.

And shame on Adrian Smith for stirring-up public ill-will with a campaign like this.

As someone who sits on the Committee on Science & Technology, Rep. Smith has an obligation to foster participation in promoting science, not fomenting distrust.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Post at Burnaway

Many thanks to Rachel Chamberlain for her editing prowess and to the fine folks at Burnaway for publishing my review of Laura Poitras's O' Say Can You See? which is showing at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

I've written about this over at my MA thesis blog, Spectacular Agency, and I've also had a fine conversation with Jeremy Abernathy (Editor in Chief of Burnaway), which you can hear on their podcast, here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

gloATL's Luminocity | Hinterland - Brief Review

Dance performances should not be understood in the same way as other media that can be projected on a screen or a canvas. Dance should not be understood in the same way that theatrical events are presented.

Last night's performance illuminated what dance is about: choreographing relationships with objects.

We tend to think of us doing things to objects, as though the relationship is one-way. Dance points out that there is mutual influence between objects. The manner in which a space is arranged already forecloses what movements are possible.

Last night gloATL presented Luminocity Atlanta's Hinterland, a "parade-like" event that was a collaboration between gloATL and Big Boi from Outkast. Arriving from Five Points station Woodruff Park's Atrium and Speaker's Square (a speaker's box right there, nod to Outkast) was packed. Just beyond the initial crowd was an even larger crowd in the center of the park between the Atrium and the waterfall wall at Luckie Street. Throughout the park are lights, dancers wrapped in LEDs, a mobile light trucks, smoke machines every where, the buildings were blasted with projections. Wandering form one end of the park to the next, the event then burst from the confines of the original block and, with a cadre of drummers, some on a steampunk-styled float, the crowd could dance down Peachtree Street and across town to Centennial Olympic Park. It was very ambitious in terms of scale.

Reading the event's website it's hard to get a cohesive sense of what the event would entail or what it was "about." Clearly many people arrived with an agenda for how to see Big Boi. He should be on a Jumbotron, there should be speakers pumping out enormous sound (never mind that you're in the enormous sound cave called Woodruff Park, etc. That sound could be lost so easily points out how enormous the space called "downtown" is: more than simply the square footage of office space, or sidewalks, or lanes of interstate highway that flow through it - there is also the enormous negative space above us.

I think last night's event was successful in doing several difficult things:
  1. overcoming what everyone who lives in town already knows (and tacitly supports): that no one hangs-out downtown, and downtown is not a place where people walk around.
  2. getting Big Boi to perform in an event that illustrates hiphop's open secret: it's all about gesture. Big Boi took risks in performing in this event, something that hip hop avoids at all cost. It was risky for Big Boi to perform in an event where it was obvious that the purpose was not to have a live hip hop show but instead to explore what performances are possible in that particular place. How else could we understand why it was possible for me to drown-out the song he lip-synced to with a small cough?
  3. related to the first issue, dance, like any athletic event, begs the question, "What can a body do? How can a body flow in a space?" This is a crucial question for Atlanta at this moment. How will the city engage in alternate flows of bodies across its area? Is it necessarily the case that Atlanta is forever doomed to pockets of cultures never interconnecting?
The event was, seemingly by design, contingent. Contingent upon who would show up, who was willing to participate (vs. those who simply wanted to ogle), how the ground conditions effected the dancers bodies, who was willing to allow their bodies be joined in the dance troupe and then allow themselves (these now multiple selves) to dance across downtown. Contingent events like these are expressions of optimism and affirmations of the creative potential in collaboration. Whoever cheers when contingent events don't congeal, doesn't reduce the truth affirmed, rather they affirm their inability to create.

Last night I watched hundreds and hundreds of bodies flow across Atlanta. And we did so in the cold, cold night. I, personally, haven't walked to Centennial Olympic Park since the bombing during the Olympics in '96. There is something stirring in the air...

[UPDATED: cleaned-up some of the wording.]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ARTSpeak on AM1690 and Burnaway - Laura Poitras

Jeremy Abernathy, Editor in Chief of Burnaway, and I had a fine chat about the Laura Poitras exhibition at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, O' Say Can You See?

You can hear our discussion and download it from Burnaway, here.

I've written a bit about the Poitras piece at the site where I've been developing my MA thesis, Spectacular Agency and you can view it here.

This was a good Election Day episode. Many huge thanks to both Jeremy and the wonderful folks at AM 1690 WMLB, voice of the arts in Atlanta, for making me sound so good. I really love the intro and outro music.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ARTSpeak on AM1690 and Burnaway - RLand

I had the great pleasure of meeting with Jeremy Abernathy, Editor in Chief of the Atlanta-based arts criticism blog, Burnaway, to talk about a local artist we like named R. Land.

You can hear our conversation over here.

We wanted to have a Halloween-y type-show because AM1690 is sponsoring a showing of Hitchcock's Psycho at the Plaza Theater around the corner on Ponce.

Of course, R. Land has a special relationship with that corner there: last year he hosted the screening of the 70s bizarro horror flick, Zaat. Promotional materials for the screening included appropriating the local Re/Max agent, Zac (also on the corner there) so that they then stated:

But also, mysteriously paintings from an unknown "Royce Riley" showed up at the Righteous Room (also on the corner with the Plaza Theater and Zac's realty). No big thing that the Righteous Room would have paintings, but look at them:
It's hard not to think that Royce Riley is R. Land's doppelganger, how unheimlich. So there's this spooky double out there, also involved in painting, also hangin' out on Land's block, but if we look at many of the characters that Land creates they seem to be in perpetual shudder or trembling. These involuntary movements, called dystonia, is a strong indicator of neurodegenerative diseases in both Parkinson's and Huntington's Diseases. Spooky.

But I also wanted to talk about R. Land as a painter that seems to capture a lot of the bizarre charm of being from the Southeast and also being in these times.

Though a longtime Atlantan, he's from Jacksonville, Florida. When we look at some of his contemporary paintings, like Itchitucknee Songbook (2008) that I mentioned in the talk with Jeremy, we begin to suss some of that Southern-ness out.

When I look at Itchitucknee Songbook (right) I see something quintessentially lowcountry. The lowcountry is a term used primarily to describe the coastal regions of South Carolina but the geography is fairly consistent from Wilmington to Jacksonville/St. Augustine. It's called the Coastal Empire in Georgia and it's called the First Coast in northeast Florida.

What's consistent in the region are the marshes. But also, a fascinating group called the Geechee-Gullah. These folks are thought to be descended from the earliest African slaves brought to Charleston, South Carolina via Brazil. Because the lowcountry and coastal empire region shares a semitropical environment, yellow fever out breaks were frequent and often the white slave owners would leave the slaves for extended periods of time to work. This physical distance in turn allowed a growing cultural difference between the Gullah and the mainland African slaves. While Gullah communities are largely isolated still, contact can be achieved via folkstories that some children are taught in the region. The folkways of the region have developed, of course, in tandem. While the Wren's Nest talks about Joel Chandler Harris and his popularizing of Uncle Remus, those of us from the Gullah region also learned about Bruh Rabbit (not Br'er Rabbit like in Disney's Song of the South).
Silhouette by Carew Rice to illustrate a collection of Gullah poetry called Dusky Land (1942)

From the Gullah we get also the spiritual, "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" and the Itchitucknee Songbook also evokes for us the old-timey "Swanee River" that Gershwin made famous via Al Jolson - the Ichetucknee River flows into the Suwanee on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. The source of the Suwanee is that incredible Okefenokee Swamp. Which is, of course, the home of that lovable comic strip by Walt Kelly, Pogo.

from the Pogo Primer for Parents, a U.S. Government document, 1961
It's easy to say that the animal figures in Land's work tends toward the abject and remains always surreal:
But have you seen some of the wildlife in the region?
catfish - they get enormous!
mermaid fishing in Rainbow Springs, Florida (where Zaat was filmed)
are you telling me these manatees are not kinda abject and surreal
The color palette that R. Land uses is fairly typical of comic books, such as the Walt Kelly I've already mentioned but also the ubiquitous Bazooka Joe comics that we read as kids when walking to the Circle K.
But these colors are also found in the early maps of the First Coast region as well:
map of St. Augustine, British East Florida. Thomas Jeffrey (1763)
The map below I think is really interesting - what's the deal with that monstrous fish on the left side of the ships?
Sir Francis Drake lays siege to St. Augustine. Baptista Boazio (1589)
Of course, R. Land also evokes some of his contemporaries such as Reverend Howard Finster (outsider/folk artist par excellence here in Atlanta):
Coke Bottle. Howard Finster (2001)
or Keith Haring:
Untitled. Mural in Pisa, Italy. Keith Haring (1987)
Haring is certainly an influence in a Land piece like Giants of the New Wave (2008):
And this influence can't be played down as we see the repetition of iconic figures in something like "Lacoste Landfill" (Izod), 2008:
Yes, it's a funny appropriation of a global capital icon. But, if we look back to the image records of the region where R. Land is from we see that there is also an historical precedent for seeing in this way that is no less surreal (if we mean it in the Breton manner of becoming "scientists of sleep"):
Crocodile Hunt. Jacques Le Moyne (16th century)
Crocodile Hunt. Jacques Le Moyne (16th century)
Anyone that lives in the U.S. has to at some point come to terms with the fact that we are not the indigenous people of the continent. Of course, so few of the indigenous people live in the region that their cultures are tenuously maintained and their ways so systematically forgotten that it's fascinating to view how the Europeans viewed them.
Chief Saturiwa. Theodor de Bry (engraving based on Jacques Le Moyne), 16th century
Timucua owl totem. Pre-Columbian era
The Timucua were a group living in the First Coast region of Florida when the Spanish and British began their conquest of the peninsula. If we click the above image of Chief Saturiwa we see the intricate tattoo work. Tattoos, especially of the "Sailor Jerry" or "Ed Hardy" style are commonly exploited and exploded in R. Land's work. The effect is to now look at these sixteenth century engravings and wonder by what mechanism did these Jersey Shore-types get stranded, back in time, in the early days of colonial North America? That is to say, that R.Land's work allows me, now on the tail end of the Modern era to look back at the beginnings of the Modern era and wonder how we get outta here?
Untitled (Owls) R.Land (2008)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Manning/Massumi Day 4

NOTE: As with all my notes from the European Graduate School, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.

Manning & Massumi together offered two classes with us, “Emergent Space(-times)” and “The Choreographic Object – or, How movement moves us.” They were taught together and it created a fantastic experience for me.

We spent some time discussing Manning and Massumi's evening lectures from the previous two nights.

Moshé Feldenkrais, mid-20th century scientist, developed techniques for investigating how the body learns without cognition (the Feldenkrais Method). In our movements we largely operate within our idiosyncratic movement habits. Feldenkrais used, among other things, distraction to overcome these habitual movements.

Jamie Burke, a typing autist.
Spinoza's joy is a kind of affirmation that relies on an ecology.

Manning wants to foreground the craft of autistic thinking.

On this day we had to develop techniques. Our assignment was to develop a clear, concise, precise that can be shared in a 15 minute meeting with another group. Our aim is modulation, exodus, disruption, transduction of the event. How do we move the relation?

We needed to develop a transduction of these technicities, a platform for relating.

What is the representation(demonstration?) of affective tonality?

Our technique was incorporated a group being intertwined in a sheet such that if one member went in a direction the others would also have to respond to their subtle movements. The question stands, how do we transduce the sheet experience to a non-sheet experience so that the lesson can be appropriated?

Consider Gilbert Simondon. His theory of individuation holds that as we develop we alter our trajectories. In the attuning of the direction we realize that the individual points along the way are not moments of stoppage but a metastability that is always on the verge of falling apart, a precarious equilibrium.

This precariousness creates a de-phasing, what propels the transduction, a shifting of the system itself?
The choreographic object catalyzes the relationship and activates other possible interactions.

We have to develop a technique dealing with water; propositional such that it's not in an active/passive dichotomy. The key to ethics is the loss of self/ground.

The dance of attention includes human attentiveness but is not limited to the human. How does the environment attend to the unfolding of the event?

"The Thinking-Feeling of What Happens - A Semblance of a Conversation"
Brian Massumi (2008) Inflexions, no.1.
What is central to interactive art is not so much the aesthetic form in which a work presents itself to an audience [...] but the behaviour the work triggers in the viewer. [....] First, since an interactive work aims to evoke a behaviour in the audience, can it really do without a form that is “interesting”, and therefore in some way aesthetic? Is putting a sign up saying  "You may touch the work" or "You may interact with the work" enough? When is the interaction “interesting” enough to keep the audience interacting? Can or should this interaction generate the sort of aesthetic experience that we associate with the phenomenon of art? Or is interactive art about a different kind or type of experiences, compared to more traditional art forms?
Brian Massumi: If “please interact” were enough to define a category, it would be gaming, not art. Beyond gaming in the strict sense, there is a gaming paradigm that has moved into other domains. You see it massively in communications, but also in marketing, design, training, education. Places where it becomes serious and useful. Interactivity can make the useful less boring and the serious more engaging. It is performance-enhancing.
Immediately the question of form comes forward, and the assumption that vision is passive rather than active.

Technology that is supposed to be interactive has to act as a lure (from Whitehead) that announces its relevance in shifting our interrelationality.
How do you speak of form when there is the kind of openness of outcome that you see in a lot of new media art, where participant response determines what exactly happens? When the artwork doesn’t exist, because each time that it operates the interaction produces a variation, and the variations are in principle infinite? When the artwork proliferates? Or when it disseminates, as it does when the work is networked, so that the interaction is distributed in time and space and never ties back together in one particular form? To begin with, you have to get past the idea that form is ever fixed [....] The idea that there is such a thing as fixed form is actually as much an assumption about perception as it is an assumption about art. It assumes that vision is not dynamic – that it is a passive, transparent registering of something that is just there, simply and inertly. If vision is stable, then to make art dynamic you have to add movement. But if vision is already dynamic, the question changes. It’s not an issue of movement or no movement. The movement is always there in any case. So you have to make distinctions between kinds of movement, kinds of experiential dynamics, and then ask what difference they make.
Hardt & Negri's "common" is pointing-out that the tragedy of the commons occurs when we assume that the commons is a resource "out there" only and can be appropriated. The Commons he (who?, I suspect it's Massumi, Hardt, Manning, and Negri) promotes is the surplus always being produced in the multiplicity.
Langer reminds us that we see things we don’t actually see. We all know it, but we tend to brush it off by calling it an illusion, as if something is happening that isn’t real, and doesn’t have anything important to say about experience. But isn’t something happening the very definition of real? The question is: what exactly does the inconvenient reality that we see things we don’t actually see say about the nature of perception? Well, it changes everything. [...]That could be another definition of real: what we can’t not experience when we’re faced with it. Instead of calling it an illusion – this movement we can’t actually see but can’t not see either – why not just call it abstract? Real and abstract. The reality of this abstraction doesn’t replace what’s actually there. It supplements it. We see it with and through the actual form. It takes off from the actual form. The actual form is like a launching pad for it. [...] The actual form and the abstract dynamic are two sides of the same experiential coin. They’re inseparable; they’re fused, like two dimensions of the same reality.
The virtual and the abstract are capable of making effects felt in the world without re-dichotomizing the real and the abstract: the virtual cannot be known as such, the virtual can only be known in reference to the actual.
For example, to see an object is to see volume. We don’t infer volume. We see the voluminousness of an object, directly and immediately, without having to think about it. [...]
We see the “backedness” of it without actually seeing around to the other side. That’s precisely what makes it a perception of an object, rather than a deduction about a surface. We are really but implicitly – abstractly – seeing the object’s voluminousness. The perceived shape of an object is this abstract experience of volume. [...]
For example, We see weightiness through texture. Voluminousness and weightiness are not in themselves visible. But we can’t not see them when we see an object. In fact, we see them in the form of the object. Form is full of all sorts of things that it actually isn’t -- and that actually aren’t visible. Basically, it’s full of potential. When we see an object’s shape we are not seeing around to the other side, but what we are seeing, in a real way, is our capacity to see the other side. We’re seeing, in the form of the object, the potential our body holds to walk around, take another look, extend a hand and touch. [...]
The potential we see in the object is a way our body has of being able to relate to the part of the world it happens to find itself in at this particular life’s moment. What we abstractly see when we directly and immediately see an object is lived relation – a life dynamic. [...]
That’s the doubleness: if you’re not qualitatively seeing what isn’t actually visible, you’re not seeing an object, you’re not seeing objectively.
Baudrillard's thought is still in the logic of representation and as such requires the injection of difference.
When people talk about the visual, what they are actually talking about is almost always a certain mode of what in perception studies is called a cross-modal transfer – a certain way different senses inter-operate. How, for example, does classical perspective painting create an experience of depth? By composing lines and colors in such a way as to trigger a direct experience of the potential I was talking about in relation to object awareness in so-called natural perception: the potential to advance, move around, bring backsides into view, and touch. This is a direct visual experience. [...]
Perspective painting doesn’t “trick” object-perception. It activates it otherwise. The experience of depth is not an optical “illusion.” It’s a real experience of depth, minus the depth. The experience of depth has been made to take off from its usual experiential framing and enter a different frame. [...]
When you are experiencing painted depth, you aren’t looking at a canvas, you are seeing a scene. You’re seeing through the canvas into an abstraction that it has taken off from it, and is a qualitatively different perceptual event. Your perception has been siphoned into the semblance, the canvas’s ghostly perceptual double. The semblance can’t happen without a perch in objecthood. But when it happens, it is in uncanny excess of actual objectivity. [...]
A semblance isn’t just like a force. Its “likeness” is a force, an abstract force of life. Lumière’s moving images were literally capable of launching live bodies into flight.
What we perceive is an act of faith - we trust that there is water in the cup in front of us (even if we can't see the water in front of us). Deleuze calls it a belief in the world - putting faith into the world -  contra theology, where faith is from without.

If the virtual can maintain its form in the abstract and never appears in the real, then what is the point of that concept?

The virtual shifts and molds itself in response to the actual, a dynamic conceptual tool that is constantly reinvigorated  and retooled in the shifting of its affects in the real.

The mountains of Saas-Fee seem flat and fake in the absence of clouds; we have to have the relational perception to understand their forms.

Habit holds the world up - there is no "it's just" habit.

We see, in vision, something that can't be seen without being felt - vision never just sees. There is some form of judgment in perception.

In memory we can bring out a detail that we weren't aware of in the actual experience. We can't say "we only see what we want" because we haven't been constituted by the experience yet so we can't yet put volition into the equation.

Priming in experimental psychology is preparing the following moment; our perception modulates or transitions throughout the day and we cross thresholds always being tangentially-oriented by perception as it primes our habitual action.

[The uncanny valley - how might that be part of our proprioceptive discussion?]

Perception for Massumi isn't a perception but all modes of perceiving together.


Brian Massumi Evening Lecture

NOTE: As with all my notes from the EGS, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.

The students are required to attend evening lectures given by the faculty each evening as part of our curriculum. Brian Massumi was the fourth person to give an evening lecture during the August sessions.

[I must apologize for the quality of my notes for this talk: I was very sick during these several days and my ability to write what I heard was very much compromised.]

This paper has a long and checkered history: exploring ritual action and not employing the symbolic but an ontogenetic force.

Thinking of ritual action also gets us reflecting on artistic practice - how art and ethical action are a force. Radical empiricism holds that everything real is felt

Walter Benjamin discussed the difference between how our ancestors danced as clouds is different from how we think of semblance today. "What is this semblance that paradoxically represents nothing?" Benjamin states, "It is relation."

What we feel in the billiard balls is the continued movement, the momentum. Semblance can't be found in snapshots - the relationship of movement is felt rather than composed of discrete units, these units exist, but the dynamism is expressed in relation to their affective tonality - the quality of movement.

The yoking of diverse moments can bring an extreme diversity because it is an expression of nonsensuous linkage (similarity?)

Being nonsensuous, activation contours are a-modal and can jump across orders. Cross-modal transference is inferior to a-modal because [....]

The body is on a life path, a worldline in movement, they are a-modal and present the opportunity to yoking a diversity of potential experience.

To this point, we've been operating with the assumption of a given subject-object relationship. Affect brings form qualitatively to life.

The emergent parent form is an a-modal emergent yoking of diversification. The child will learn to separate-out the sensuous and the objective separation of relationality.

Each new event retraces the historic unfolding traces, even as they advance the worldine. Every body stands for a potential expansion of the universe and are an archive of the shared relationship. Language is where skipping intermediaries is possible.

The autonomy of the qualitative ordering of life [....]

It's not that the world and world order are lost in thought, but language takes up these orders and moves forward the worlding. Language is the potential for movement nonsensuously [....]

Language presents worldlines in advance, language can return us to the sensuous; it's not that the world is lost in language but that we are lost in the delusions of language-speculation.

The constructive truth is pragmactic.
[thinking-feeling (xin 心)]
Through the activity of language (the coming non-local activation, aggregate relation potential), the affective is directly experienced.

Nonsensuous semblance has nothing to do with metaphor or allegory

Thought can be a force toward composition of the world operating on these relational potentialities.

Is the political in need of redefining?

Semblance - ritual action reorders the worlding in its doubling of the event; the [....]

The political needs to avoid reintroducing the content of one locality and imposing it onto another context. A bare activity that animates the other contexts as part of an expansive yoking.


[NOTES TO SELF: ritual propriety (li 禮) requires radical pedagogy which is informed by the transmission of radical empiricism as it teaches the generation of novelty, not aberrance.

Why is peut-être both "maybe" and "perhaps" because this is an event that is activated.

Look at Deleuze's "The Exhausted" about Beckett. Also Benjamin's "On the Mimetic Faculty"

The problem with politics as a term for relationality is like the problem of pharmacy - in both concepts there is this exclusion of the pharmakoi for the purpose of maintaining an economy of what can be yoked in the City's life.

The logic of peut-être both "maybe" and "perhaps" is relationality; it's magical in that it is the allowance of expansive possibility.

Whitehead uses the term penumbra, like a cloud of gnats (from Process and Reality):
Thus, in our actual world of today there is a penumbra of eternal objects, constituted by relevance to the Battle of Waterloo. Some people do admit elements from this penumbral complex into effective feeling, and others wholly exclude them. [...] The elements of this penumbra are propositional prehensions, and not pure conceptual prehensions; for their implication of the particular nexus which is the Battle of Waterloo is an essential factor. Thus an element in this penumbral complex is what is termed a 'proposition.'(185)
Whitehead's is a philosophy of novelty generation so is ritual propriety (li 禮), Ames and Hall use Whitehead in their translations, necessary to avoid aberrance, or is aberrance even possible?]

Erin Manning Evening Lecture

NOTE: As with all my notes from the EGS, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.

The students are required to attend evening lectures given by the faculty each evening as part of our curriculum. Erin Manning was the third person to give an evening lecture during the August sessions.

This talk comes from the last chapter of her forthcoming book Ethics of Language in the Making and is built from quotes from autists and those with characterized as having low-functioning autism.

The talk is particularly inspired by the work of Amanda Baggs and her amazing video, In My Language:

Mindblindness - an inability to understand what is in the mind of another. Autists don't necessarily only remain attuned to humans, but to everything else in the "theater of individuation."

What is sidestepped in the clinical model of autism is the presupposition that object relations are typical or are normative and naturally interhuman, not that they are socially-prescribed.

Metaphor as a mobility of relationality, not of representation -- they move across strata of intelligibility.

Let's also look at Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay

The milieu of individuation should not mean that which is not multiple. We are multiple. The challenge is exacerbated for autists because there is this issue of translating the lived experience into language.

Pure experience doesn't exist without thought, rather language seems to privilege a modality of time and the autist's experience of time is difficult to put into our language - verbal and nonverbal in expression.

Many voices from the neurotypical communities discuss a "descent into autism" such that the trope hovers around ideas of subhuman, retarded, and a simple (false) dichotomy of human relating and ignores the possibility that neurodiversity and radical difference might inform our own lived experiences.

Language activates fields of relation; it is eminently relational and a collective individuation of sense: between words, with the words. Language acts presuppose collective activity.

Ethics are the immanent expression of the infinite potentiality in the limits of the emergent.

Language-making is the bringing-into-the-act.

[NOTE TO SELF: Psychasthenia still presupposes an essentialism that misleads us in our thinking about relationality. This talk has me rethinking. There is this problem of understanding the co-generative nature of language to communicate our loss of self]

Could the real problem be in the deliberating in order to find consensual terms; might it be that our task is to increase the attempts at communicating?

The neurotypical communities tend to underestimate the rich contributions that the autistic community can contribute to our understanding ourselves.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Manning/Massumi Day 3

NOTE: As with all my notes from the European Graduate School, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.

Manning & Massumi together offered two classes with us, “Emergent Space(-times)” and “The Choreographic Object – or, How movement moves us.” They were taught together and it created a fantastic experience for me.

"Choreographic Objects"
William Forsythe from Synchronous Objects Media Site

"Propositions for the Verge - William Forsythe's Choreographic Objects"
Erin Manning (2008) Inflexions, Vol. 2

Even within the same discipline there are different technicities, styles of thought that can be employed to approach a problem.

Forsythe starts with propositions and the effect achieved is similar to the ways in which algorithms operate - these are iterative, randomized algorithms incorporate some element of chance and so they become evolutionary. They are generative acts.

For example, consider Forsythe's "Counterpoint algorithm" from Eidos:Telos, part 3 (1995):
Proposition: Effect an orientation shift. Shift the relationship of your torso to the floor by 90 degrees moving through plié. Take the shape or path of the movement and translate it through your body so that it happens in another area of your body.
Proposition: Drop a Curve. Take any point on your body and, guided by the skeletal-muscular mechanics inherent in the body’s position, drop that point to its logical conclusion following a curved path. Reconfigure the body or set it in motion in a way that varies from the original sequence.
Proposition: Unfold with Inclination Extension. Create a line between elbow and hand. Extend that line by leaving your forearm where it is in space and manoevering your body to create a straight line between shoulder and hand.
Forsythe calls these propositions "time machines" that generate movement.

Note: we went outside and tried a few of these propositions:

Here is a link to the Times Literary Supplement and Siobhan Peiffer's brief introduction to this dance piece.

Also of immense value is Ann Nugent's Doctoral thesis (2000) The Architexts of Eidos:Telos. A critical study through intertextuality of the dance text conceived by William Forsythe, at the University of Surrey.
Choreography is transformed from being the storage site of movement and becomes a laboratory of movement activity.

Forsythe is a distributive node - he's generating propositions with a strong Whiteheadian vocabulary.

Movement in space is not a movement in a pre-defined space but an unfolding of space with movement, an emergent activity.

Forsythe claims that choreography and dance are not the same, these exist in the world separated all the time: dance without choreography, and choreography without dance. He asks, "is it possible to generate autonomous expressions of its principals, a choreographic object, without the body?" (in Manning, pg. 2)

The figure-ground relation (Zidane) is the nodal point, the minimal organization from which generative movement can occur. Where does movement start and where does it stop? It's a relation between a model of transition. "The choreographic object: a model of potential transition from one state to another in any space imaginable." (Manning, 2)

Choreography transforms what a body can do.

Improvisation as incipient choreography - what would we consider the object to be? what moves these bodies?

Waking-up is the threshold between waking and sleeping; in these thresholds there is this turning point and we decide whether to follow habitual action or improvise.

The object is the tending toward, a tendency.
Forsythes’s choreographic process creates conditions for events. When an object becomes the attractor for the event, it in-gathers the event toward the object’s dynamic capacity for reconfiguring spacetimes of composition. [...] These “objects” are always part of an evolving ecosystem in Forsythe’s work. They extend beyond their objectness to become ecologies for complex environments that propose dynamic constellations of space, time and movement. These “objects” are in fact propositions co-constituted by the environments they make possible. They urge participation. [...] The object becomes a missile for experience that inflects a given spacetime with a spirit of experimentation. [...] The object has to be immanent to the event and active in its unfolding. [...] Choreographic objects are an affordance that provokes a singular taking-form: the conjunctive force for the activity of relation. (Manning, 3)
The difference between an object and a choreographic object is the potential activity, the affordances, that the context offers. The object does not allow all movements to be reproduced in the same ways all the time.

What are the conditions necessary to avoid the insistence that the spectator be imposed upon with a predetermined, idealized, choreography?
[This question directly relates to a conversation I had with Manning and Massumi the previous day as we discussed Victor Burgin's evening lecture and the frustration of video installations in galleries]
Dance, music, language -- these are articulatory, but at what level? We look to Guattari and schizoanalysis as metamodeling; modeling with, not onto.

The White Bouncy Castle. Dana Casperson, William Forsythe and Joel Ryan. Co-production with (1997)
The White Bouncy Castle is more than a large platform for jumping: it effects a microperceptible change in the feeling of time, shifting the everydayness of time passing from the foregrounded measured time of habitual movement toward the durational time of play. (Manning, 4)
There is the question of time: experiencial time vs. measured time.
Choreographic objects provoke this time-slip in large part because they bring to the fore the role objects play in experience. Objects always resonate with pastness. The everyday objects Forsythe proposes for experimentation exist in an ecology of previous experience. [...] Experience is drawn forth by a pastness of the present. This pastness of the present is specious: it feels like the present even though it is already passing. When we actually perceive this pastness as the present in experience, Alfred North Whitehead calls it non-sensuous perception. [...] We perceive not from sense to sense, but from relation to relation. “The present moment is constituted by the influx of the other into that self-identity which is the continued life of the immediate past within the immediacy of the present” (Whitehead, 1933: 181). It is not the past as such or the object as such we perceive in the here-and-now. It is the activity of relation between different thresholds of spacetime. It is the object from the past in the configuration of the present. The then-with.(Manning, 4-5)
The immediate past is overlapping with the unfolding present; the calling of the future is to a deeper past into the present. This is why routine/habit occurs.
This is how the choreographic object works. [...] You half turn your attention to the quality of ‘having fun’ and before you know it, your posture has shifted. You’re tending toward the fun. This movement-with becomes the initiating gesture toward the time of the event the choreographic object proposes. [...] When an object no longer seems to be quite what you thought it was and the experience of time no longer feels as linear, it’s because the event is beginning to take over. No longer as concerned with your ‘self’, you are now experiencing the potential of the future mixed in with the resonance of the past: a futurity of pastness in the present. Play. (Manning, 5)
This experience is specious: it takes us into the time-slip of the event. This speciousness has a quality of fabulation: it enervates us toward the paradox of time and incites us to invent with time. [7] Choreographic objects draw us into this speciousness by infiltrating our experience with the verge of this doubling [....] they exist in the between of a proposition and its eventness, inciting the participant to invent through them, to move with [....] Choreographic objects draw out this paradox of the linearity of measured time versus the duration of experiential time. “The practically cognized present is no knife-edge, but a saddle-back, with a certain breadth of its own on which we sit perched, and from which we look in two directions into time” (James, 1890: 609). (Manning, 6)
This leads us to Whithead's discussion of the proposition. These are lures that brings into activity certain potentialities. The proposition builds a bridging across; the activation of the potential.
Nostalgia do Corpo: Corpo Coletivo. Lygia Clark (1986)

[NOTE TO SELF: The problem of psychastenia in spectacular agency is that there is this absence of model - by reducing the horizon of potentiality in promoting standardized commodity production]

The proposition is not the same here as in linguistics; the proposition as thought here allows the event to unfold itself in its relationality.
Whitehead’s concept of the proposition does not find its voice in an already-conceived language. “Spoken language,” Whitehead warns, “is merely a series of squeaks” (Whitehead, 1978: 264). Language by itself means little. “The vagueness of verbal statement is such that the same form of words is taken to represent a whole set of allied propositions of various grades of abstractness” (1978: 193). When language moves us, it is because it operates in relation, becoming-propositional. A proposition can unfold in language, but not as an additive to an already-stable matrix of denotation. Propositions alter the ground of active relations between language, affect and gesture (to name a few), intensifying, attenuating, inhibiting, transmuting not meaning as such, but the affective force of the time-slip of experience. (Manning, 7)
There can be many propositions, but artistically it's best to keep it simple.

The proposition provokes but cannot predetermine. Whitehead uses this word because it is usually synonymous with judgment and he wants to forground the ability to create an affective tonality.
Every conception of the new is the actualisation of a contrast. For Whitehead, contrast is a conduit to creativity. What the proposition calls for is not a newness as something never before invented, but a set of conditions that tweak experience in the making. Propositions are lures. [...] Propositions that incite creativity lure difference into the pact of their unfolding through the tweaking of the occasion. This tweaking brings about the resolution of potentiality and actuality while leaving a trace of the virtual nonetheless. This is the subtraction in the addition, the more-than less-than of experience. (Manning, 6)
Manning and Massumi characterize their work as "creating emerging attunements." They stress, "relations as event and not as communication." The point is that we have to invent our own languages and give that a texture.

Tarkovsky described his film making style as "sculpting in time" which is the translated name, also, of his book in which he discusses his film making. But note that this is the translation into English of the title in Russian Запечатлённое время (literally, "Depicted Time") His films are now freely available online from Open Culture.

Also consider Chris Marker's Sans Soleil  and La Jetee for a visualization of time.
(Both films are available if you follow the links.)

An event hospitality - where the context itself allows for much.

Given the folding of the text and deformation of forms, we get this topology; the object here is in motion, yeah? thus the objectile - playing on the word "projectile." Objectile, as in "object-ish."

Rhythm is a central concept in this text, distinct from "beat." A beat is formalized and we're searching for the potentialized, rather than the formalized.
Rhythm is not added to movement from outside its taking form. Rhythm is its taking form. Because each rhythm is itself a duration, rhythm is what gives time to incipient movement, characterizing that singular movement’s in-timeness. This in-timeness is not a beat or a measure but a quality of becoming that is co-terminous with the incipiency of the movement’s preacceleration and the elasticity of its unfolding. (Manning, 18-9)
Here we can also consider Deleuze's discussion of Bergson's thinking on duration. Corry Shores has an excellent blog for reading Bergsonism over at Pirates & Revolutionaries. Here I am linking to the site directory for the 4th chapter from Bergsonism called, "One or Many Durations." Also look to the fine blog Lectures by Gilles Deleuze and specifically this entry "Theory of Multiplicities in Bergson"

[Forsythe says that a body is that which folds. Deleuze says that anything can be a body - a concept can be a body." Could time be a body (that folds)? Without animating time with an event it's simply an abstract thought.]

Think of the cover song: each cover has its own rhythm, they apprehend the time signatures that potentially could have been deployed. It's incipient in the original and brought forward in the cover.
Choreography’s ecology is rhythmical. Choreography is composed of an infinity of slightly varying velocities, vibrations, sensations. These qualities are in and of matter, active in the transduction from force to form. These individuating qualities give specificity to the environment, inflecting the ways bodies move with and through it. The movement in turn creates time-volumes that populate the co-configuring atmosphere. Choreography, as Forsythe emphasizes, is not strictly about human bodies. It is about the creation of spacetimes of experience. (Manning,19)
You can't dance a movement in time - it's too fast. Of course the dance is done in time, but dance is unlike movement which is the "sounding of rhythm."

When we develop technicities, perhaps we background rhythm and we take time for granted -- we might feel responsible for the occurrence of an event, producing an "event" or making a scene, but the event has its own time.

[Xunzi (荀子)'s "proper naming would, then, be understanding when the naming is appropriate or not.]

"Forms of Process"
A.N. Whitehead, from Modes of Thought (1938)
Whitehead's "eternal object" (see Steven Shaviro's entry over at Pinocchio Theory) is neither eternal not is it an object. We don't see "green" out the window, we see a green - an exhibit of green in the world. Green is real but what is its mode of reality across seasons? across existence?

It's eternal because it can always come back. It's always there potentially to ingress into the world. The green happens in the relation between our bodies, the photons, and the grass. His theory of God is the exploration of this eternality.

The green-ness, the gerunding of qualities as events. Physical prehensions are objects coming into the world, in the flourishing of the event. Autists live in the -ness and unfortunately for them the social world demands that they live outside of -ness.
The essence of life is to be found in the frustrations of established order. The Universe refuses the deadening influence of complete conformity. And yet in its refusal, it passes towards novel order as a primary requisite for important experience. We have to explain the aim at forms of order, and the aim at novelty of order, and the measure of success, and the measure of failure. Apart from some understanding, however dim, of these characteristics of the historic process, we enjoy no rationality of experience. (119)
Whitehead sees that rationality is really successful when it's capable of establishing novelty. An event generates a cloud of propositions.
 This unit of process is the 'specious present' of the actuality in question. It is a process of composition, of gradation, and of elimination. Every detail in the process of being actual involves its own gradation in reference to the other details. The effectiveness of any one such factor involves the elimination of elements in the data not to be reconciled with that detail playing that part in the process. Now elimination is a positive fact, so that the background of discarded data adds a tone of feeling to the whole pulsation. No fact of history, personal or social; is understood until we know what it has escaped and the narrowness of the escape. You cannot fully understand the history of the European races in North America, without reference to the double failure of Spanish domination over California in the nineteenth century, and over England in the sixteenth century. (122)
Whitehead asks us to think of the worst events, those that reconstruct our world also brought with them a host of potential outcomes that could have been and also continue to await activation under conditions amenable to their becoming.

We become artists of occasions.

Events will never happen again, they are singular, the conditions might be such that something similar occurs but it is nonetheless unique.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chris Fynsk Evening Lecture, 2010

NOTE: As with all my notes from the EGS, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.

The students are required to attend evening lectures given by the faculty each evening as part of our curriculum. Chris Fynsk was the second person to give an evening lecture during the August sessions.

Here Fynsk presents a preface to reading Blanchot's The Instant of My Death. The story isn't very long and so he read it in its entirety.

There is a sentence in this text which is already this "step not beyond" (9). We have here, then, a compassionate Blanchot.

This is an account of Blanchot's escape from a Nazi firing squad and for reasons unknown.

I asked Fynsk the following in light of the heady discussions we'd been having in the Manning/Massumi classes for the last couple of days.

"This fictive self, can it only be completed in the telling?"

The phrase "peut-être" comes up a couple of times at a key moment in the text:
In his place,  I will not try to analyze. He was perhaps (Il était peut-être) suddenly invincible. Dead -- immortal. Perhaps (Peut-être l'extase) ecstasy. Rather the feeling of compassion for suffering humanity, the happiness of not being immortal or eternal. Henceforth he was bound to death by a surreptitious friendship.
I think the choice to translate "peut-être" as "perhaps" twice rather than "maybe" in the second instance is a really interesting one to make.

If we're talking about compassion in Blanchot's thought I think we ought to consider deeply that these "peut-être"s are multiple calls to a mode of interbeing that is immanent and emergent. I say this because the root of the term perhaps is "hap" which we, in English, get from the Icelandic happ meaning "fate." Happenstance, happening, happiness, perhaps - these terms all reflect a relationship not unlike Nietzsche's amor fati. They are driven by the engine of event-ing, which sounds like Blanchot's "lived matrix of future thought."

"Hap" is an event. One finds happiness in aligning something like their lot, their fate. Is compassion also an event, such that the fictive self is completed in the telling?

(I've written about this etymology before)

Fynsk replied that, "We are not consummated (another word I offered as he thought about the question and jotted the notes to the etymology of "hap"), not completed. Writing is a becoming other - a passage that disrupts fate."

Avital Ronell suggests a PhD topic to us: Consider the ecstatic falls in the development of Modern thought - the epic falls of both Rousseau and of Barthes; these untellable near-death experiences.

As the conversation continued I thought about the difference between event and advent:
  • event -- e (out of) + venio (come)
  • advent -- ad (to, near) + venio (come)

Manning/Massumi Day 2

NOTE: As with all my notes from the European Graduate School, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.

Manning & Massumi together offered two classes with us, “Emergent Space(-times)” and “The Choreographic Object – or, How movement moves us.” They were taught together and it created a fantastic experience for me.

Whitehead's "Objects and Subjects"
(from Adventures of Ideas, Chapter XI)
§4. Prehensions.-A more formal explanation is as follows. An occasion of experience is an activity, analysable into modes of functioning which jointly constitute its process of becoming. Each mode is analysable into the total experience as active subject, and into the thing or object with which the special activity is concerned. This thing is a datum, that is to say, is describable without reference to its entertainment in that occasion. An object is anything performing this function of a datum provoking some special activity of the occasion in question. Thus subject and object are relative terms. An occasion is a subject in respect to its special activity concerning an object; and anything is an object in respect to its provocation of some special activity within a subject. Such a mode of activity is termed a 'prehension'. Thus a prehension involves three factors. There is the occasion of experience within which the prehension is a detail of activity; there is the datum whose relevance provokes the origination of this prehension; this datum is the prehended object; there is the subjective form, which is the affective tone determining the effectiveness of that prehension in that occasion of experience. How the experience constitutes itself depends on its complex of subjective forms.
Prehension is Whitehead's term for what we would call perception, but it is a perception that is bigger than simple human perception.

Prehension involves three factors:

  1. experience as active perception
  2. the provocation of events
  3. the affectivity of the emergent experience
Objectivity is about relationality for Whitehead; we might want to gerund all our nouns.

The subjective form is an affordance for capability: a chair's subjective form is the relationship between the chair and the object sitting. The prehension of the subjective form as a unity of an event is possible in focusing on the field.

Prehension delimits/activates what is occurring, grasping the multiplicity.

Process philosophy is not a continuity only but is one of continuity and discontinuity; a deformable matrix rather than a template on which to hang matter.

Even that which is excluded in the subjective form is present in the excluding of the excluded.

A self-defining grasps others in the composing of what exists.

Affective tone is the internal milieu as well as the many events in the field. "A simple total vastness" such that the many events are each contributing their dynamism.

Affective tone is the dynamic potentiality to interact with the other data in the field: One level's oneness is another level's manyness. The extensive continuum is what allows for the manyness and it is the largest level of prehension.
§5. Individuality.- The individual immediacy of an occasion is the final unity of subjective form, which is the occasion as an absolute reality. This immediacy is its moment of sheer individuality, bounded on either side by essential relativity. The occasion arises from relevant objects, and perishes into the status of an object for other occasions. But it enjoys its decisive moment of absolute self-attainment as emotional unity. As used here the words 'individual' and 'atom' have the same meaning, that they apply to composite things with an absolute reality which their components lack. These words properly apply to an actual entity in its immediacy of self-attainment when it stands out as for itself alone, with its own affective self-enjoyment. The term 'monad' also expresses this essential unity at the decisive moment, which stands between its birth and its perishing. The creativity of the world is the throbbing emotion of the past hurling itself into a new transcendent fact. It is the flying dart, of which Lucretius speaks, hurled beyond the bounds of the world.

"The occasion arises from relevant objects, and perishes into the status of an object for other occasions." This is where the dynamic unity feeds into other unities.

There is a similarity between Carl Schmitt and Whitehead's notion of choice - for Whitehead it is the making of the decision and this restructuring of the possible.

[NOTE TO SELF: Amor fati is driven by necessity in Nietzsche]

For Whitehead, unlike Deleuze, there is no virtual.
§ 12. Non-Sensuous Perception.- This wider definition of perception can be of no importance unless we can detect occasions of experience exhibiting modes of functioning which fall within its wider scope. If we discover such instances of non-sensuous perception. then the tacit identification of perception with sense-perception must be a fatal error barring the advance of systematic metaphysics.
Our first step must involve the clear recognition of the limitations inherent in the scope of sense-perception. This special mode of functioning essentially exhibits percepta as here, now, immediate, and discrete. Every impression of sensation is a distinct existence. declares Hume; and there can be no reasonable doubt of this doctrine. But even Hume clothes each impression with force and liveliness. It must be distinctly understood that no prehension, even of bare sensa, can be divested of its affective tone, that is to say, of its character of a 'concern' in the Quaker sense. Concernedness is of the essence of perception.
Gaze at a patch of red. In itself as an object, and apart from other factors of concern, this patch of red, as the mere object of that present act of perception, is silent as to the past or the future. How it originates, how it will vanish, whether indeed there was a past and whether there will be a future, are not disclosed by its own nature. No material for the interpretation of sensa is provided by the sensa themselves. as they stand starkly, barely, present and immediate. We do interpret them; but no thanks for the feat is due to them. The epistemologies of the last two hundred years are employed in the tacit introduction of alien considerations by the uncritical use of current forms of speech. A copious use of simple literary forms can thus provide a philosophy delightful to read, easy to understand, and entirely fallacious. Yet the usages of language do prove that our habitual interpretations of the se barren sensa are in the main satisfying to common sense, though in particular instances liable to error. But the evidence on which these interpretations are based is entirely drawn from the vast background and foreground of non-sensuous perception with which sense-perception is fused, and without which it can never be. We can discern no clean-cut sense-perception wholly concerned with present fact. 
The principle philosopher of sense for Whitehead was Hume; the problem Whitehead sees is putting a direct communication between the sense organs and the world, not mediated by the cogito.

§ 12. Non-Sensuous Perception. (continued)
In human experience, the most compelling example of nonsensuous perception is our knowledge of our own immediate past. I am not referring to our memories of a day past, or of an hour past, or of a minute past. Such memories are blurred and confused by the intervening occasions of our personal existence. But our immediate past is constituted by that occasion, or by that group of fused occasions, which enters into experience devoid of any perceptible medium intervening between it and the present immediate fact. Roughly speaking, it is that portion of our past lying between a tenth of a second and half a second ago. It is gone, and yet it is here. It is our indubitable self, the foundation of our present existence. Yet the present occasion while claiming self-identity, while sharing the very nature of the bygone occasion in all its living activities, nevertheless is engaged in modifying it, in adjusting it to other influences, in completing it with other values, in deflecting it to other purposes. The present moment is constituted by the influx of the other into that self-identity which is the continued life of the immediate past within the immediacy of the present.
Whitehead has no real sense of the present - always in the future, gathering the past. It's being called-in to the future, given past performance.

Reality is background and appearance is the foreground. Points in time and space are infinitely regressing, they are wholly immaterial and infinitely divisible; it's self-undermining but useful for many tasks. Any cut in the duration alters the whole field.

Because this is a specious present, a smudge of the past is like an afterimage that overlaps with the future.

What kinds of techniques can we invent to reproduce or reiterate the affective tonality rather than reiterating the content. The content is so specific of a context that translation doesn't carry the proper weight.

[NOTE TO SELF: could we trust a government, say, that is the culmination of focusing the familiar affairs of our days or do we need a program?]

In Whitehead and Deleuze "desire" is appetition - a pole toward which, a culmination which we are drawn to.

The potential that comes with the nonsensuous is....

What comes into the present is primed - the continuation is already there, the future that is already past. The futurity of what is happening is a carry-over of the past.

When we say we were angry five minutes ago, the feeling persists, even though we say that we have gotten over it. To be promiscuous with philosophers, we need Nietzsche's prescription for a practice of forgetting.

Whitehead is working at an absolute limit, asking "How?" How does this happen? How does it change? What are the techniques that can be developed to make these changes...

[NOTE TO SELF: Reappropriating the context as political action; being appropriate to the context is required to do that. Isn't do this virtuosity? Reappropriation strategies are an increasing mode of artistic expression today; but is this the manner in which we are appropriated by Spectacle?]

One point activates a whole field - it appropriates the context so long as we're not confusing that the form is not prior to this emergence. There is contrast and from this we make appropriate based on natural tendencies, understood from past observations.

[NOTE TO SELF: the last bit above is very much written in terms akin to the Zhongyong (中庸).]

What color are the leaves at night? To say they are green is to have a nonsensuous experience.

Consider the sound of a punch in a movie. See Michel Chion, particularly his book Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen.

William James' "Local Signs"
(from The Principles of Psychology, Ch. XX: 155-167. 1890)
Can these differences of mere quality in feeling, varying according to locality yet having each sensibly and intrinsically and by itself nothing to do with position, constitute the 'susceptibilities' we mentioned, the conditions of being perceived in position, of the localities to which they belong? The numbers on a row of houses, the initial letters of a set of words, have no intrinsic kinship with points of space, and yet they are the conditions of our knowledge of where any house is in the row, or any word in the dictionary. Can the modifications of feeling in question be tags or labels of this kind which in no wise originally reveal the position of the spot to which they are attached, but guide us to it by what Berkeley would call a 'customary tie'? Many authors have unhesitatingly replied in the affirmative; Lotze, who in his Medzinische Psychologie [23] first described the sensations in this way, designating them, thus conceived, as local-signs. This term has obtained wide currency in Germany, and in speaking of the 'LOCAL-SIGN THEORY' hereafter, I shall always mean the theory which denies that there can be in a sensation any element of actual locality, of inherent spatial order, any tone as [p. 158] it were which cries to us immediately and without further ado, 'I am here,' or 'I am there.' If, as may well be the case, we by this time and ourselves tempted to accept the Local-sign theory in a general way, we have to clear up several farther matters. If a sign is to lead us to the thing it means, we must have some other source of knowledge of that thing. Either the thing has been given in a previous experience of which the sign also formed part-they are associated ; or it is what Reid calls a 'natural' sign, that is, a feeling which, the first time it enters the mind, evokes from the native powers thereof a cognition of the thing that hitherto had lain dormant. In both cases, however, the sign is one thing, and the thing another. In the instance that now concerns us, the sign is a quality of feeling and the thing is a position. Now we have seen that the position of a point is not only revealed, but created, by the existence of other points to which it stands in determinate relations. If the sign can by any machinery which it sets in motion evoke consciousness either of the other points, or of the relations, or of both, it would seem to fulfil its function, and reveal to us the position we seek. (157-8)
E. H. Weber, in the famous article in which he laid the foundations of all our accurate knowledge of these subjects, laid it down as the logical requisite for the perception of two separated points, that the mind should, along with its consciousness of them, become aware of an unexcited interval as such I have only tried to show how the known laws of experience may cause this requisite to be fulfilled. Of course, if the local signs of the entire region offer but little qualitative contrast inter se, the line suggested will be but dimly defined or discriminated in length or direction from other possible lines in its neighborhood. This is what happens in the back, where consciousness can sunder two spots, whilst only vaguely apprehending their distance and direction apart. (160)
 This "unexcited interval" to which he refers above is interchangeable with "relation."
If we contemplate a blank wall or sheet of paper, we always observe in a moment that we are directly looking at some speck upon it which, unnoticed at first, ended by 'catching our eye.' Thus whenever an image falling on the point P of the retina excites attention, it more habitually moves from that point towards the fovea than in any one other direction. The line traced thus by the image is not always a straight line. When the direction of the point from the fovea is neither vertical nor horizontal but oblique, the line traced is often a curve, with its concavity directed upwards if the direction is upwards, downwards if the direction is downwards. This may be verified by anyone who will take the trouble to make a simple experiment with a luminous body like a candle-flame in a dark enclosure, or a star. Gazing first at some point remote from the source of light, let the eye be suddenly turned full upon the latter. The luminous image will necessarily fall in succession upon a continuous series of points, reaching from the one first affected to the fovea. But by virtue of the slowness with which retinal excitements die away, the entire series of points will for an instant be visible as an after-image, displaying the above peculiarity of form according to its situation. [27] These radiating lines are neither regular nor invariable in the same person, nor, probably, equally curved in different individuals. We are incessantly drawing them between the fovea and every point of the held of view. Objects remain in their peripheral indistinctness only so long as they are unnoticed. The moment we attend to them they grow distinct through one of these motions -- which leads to the idea prevalent among uninstructed persons that we see distinctly all parts of the field of view at once. The result of this incessant tracing of radii is that whenever a local sign P is awakened by a spot of light falling upon it, it recalls forthwith, even though the eyeball be unmoved, the local signs of all the other points which lie between P and the fovea. It recalls them in imaginary form, just as the normal reflex movement would recall them in vivid form; and with their recall is given a consciousness more or less [p. 163] faint of the whole line on which they lie. In other words, no ray of light can fall on any retinal spot without the local sign of that spot revealing to us, by recalling the line of its most habitual associates, its direction and distance from the centre of the held. The fovea acts thus as the origin of a system of polar co-ordinates, in relation to which each and every retinal point has through an incessantly-repeated process of association its distance and direction determined. Were P alone illumined and all the rest of the field dark we should still, even with motionless eyes, know whether P lay high or low, right or left, through the ideal streak, different from all other streaks, which P alone has the power of awakening." [28] (162-4)
"In other words, no ray of light can fall on any retinal spot without the local sign of that spot revealing to us [....] Were P alone illumined and all the rest of the field dark we should still, even with motionless eyes, know whether P lay high or low, right or left, through the ideal streak, different from all other streaks, which P alone has the power of awakening." This is the nonsensuous that Whitehead is referring to, a line that has no sensuous cause.

The local sign does not necessarily allow you to reconstruct the entire body.

A creative reading practice creates a new text, read the tendencies and generate new thoughts to the text. This is the process of appreciation - Zhongyong-ing what is at-hand.

We then watched about 15 minutes of Gordon/Parreno's Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

Consider the above in conjunction with chapter 4 of Massumi's Parables of the Virtual.

Radical empiricism, another name for process philosophy, holds that relations are real and the reality of relation is directly perceived.

The "ideal streak" is that unfocusing on objects and refocusing on the field and identifying the places where the context can be appropriated.

At a less spectacular level than the Zidane film, look at the sidewalk: look at how few people crash into each other and how much they are doing while walking.

Without taking the mobility of the work seriously we are back at interaction.

[NOTE TO SELF: I ask about their take on Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics - the works tend to be radically non-communicative, there needs to be not just riffing on the idea but rigorous examination.]

Not a community of individuals but a fusion of tendencies in an event. Community has to perform its own failure and recompose, what is common? A differential (here it is from the mathematical sense meaning non-identity: two vectors share movement and the area between them is the differential). See Aden Evens "Math Anxiety." in Angelaki (2000).

Differential is not debate, it's merging into the affective tonality, attunement.

Another place to look would be Arun Saldanha's Psychedelic White which is an ethnographic study of racial difference in the trance scene of Goa, India.

Robert Irwin
check-out Lawrence Weschler's Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees which is a biography of Irwin.

Irwin started as a painter and early on realized that he was being held back, curiously, by being too good of a draftsman, by being too good at producing images. So he gave up what he was really good at and spent the next ten years in the desert so that he could learn how to see. Can the canvas do what perception does?

He creates a kinosthetic vision that is not the movement of images but shows the movement of seeing itself.

His scrim walls show that a wall is intelligible in perception by the shadow. The scrim quivers and so no such shadow can fall, thus it's indeterminate. The determinate room has become inchoate.

This is a relational aesthetic but without making any claims to participation and alters the way in which one perceives the world.