Essay – September 19, 2017
The so-called ‘movement(s) of the squares’1 did not precisely invent a new dynamic of mobilization of crowds and activation of public space – it rather revealed an emerging spatial order enabled by distributed electronic communication networks and the proliferation of wireless, mobile media inextremely ‘densified’ urban spaces. This emerging spatial order produced paradoxical spectacles that seemed at once strangely familiar and curiously novel, massive as well as evanescent.
Since 2011 we all (as a global predominantly online media audience) have witnessed recurrent spectacles of massive dissenting gatherings in public space. They originate in networked exchanges, then spill over into the streets and squares, effortlessly switching between geographic, cultural and sociopolitical contexts. We witnessed the action not via mainstream mass-media channels, but almost in real-time, live-streamed on social media feeds, blogs and activist sites, to our buzzing smartphones.
While revolving around a variety of heterogeneous issues / things, these gatherings remained remarkably constant in their patterns of mobilization / activation: in addition to online mobilization being followed by embodied gatherings in public space, the spaces became connective platforms in which to create synchronous and asynchronous feedback with electronic networks. This action in physical space drew even more subjects into an […]
Editorial – September 14, 2017
The brain is a work, and we do not know it. We are its subjects, authors and producers at once – and we do not know it.
(Against) Neuralgia: Care of the Brain in Times of Cognitive Capitalism is a new series of artists’ publications resulting from the 2016–2017 Open! COOP Academy Publishing Class at the Dutch Art Institute (DAI). DAI is an internationally orientated MA Art Praxis focusing on art, but explicitly granting attention to the crossings and interactions with other domains, disciplines and knowledges. As a partner of DAI, Open! conducts thematical research and publishes projects with a group of MA students using the Open! platform as the overarching discursive framework and site for experimentation and presentation. You can find links to the results of the previous year below.
This year our study group questioned the state of the mind and brain under conditions of cognitive capitalism. Mainly from the perspective of the humanities and political aesthetics, we focused on current notions of the brain in our global capitalist societies. We asked after how far the brain can be ideologically infiltrated or resist that infiltration. From the assumption that culture and brain form complex systems of influence, control and resistance, and that language, memory and imagination are more and more performed by machines and automated algorithmic procedures, we looked at some of the implications of […]
Essay – September 8, 2017
Alain Resnais released L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad) in 1961. In the film, a man meets a woman during a social gathering at a mansion. Shot in three different palaces as if they were one place, the characters walk through the corridors in a labyrinthine remembrance of a previous encounter. It’s unclear if they actually met before or if it’s an oneiric recount of a false memory. Dialogues are repeated in different rooms, and the fragmented narrative seems to belong to a frozen time without a possible way out.
A and X – the names of the female and male protagonists – don’t have fixed identities. They have different skins and it’s difficult to determine if they are themselves, or if they have shifted to become other people.
An atmosphere of disorientation impregnates the movie. Last Year at Marienbad, with its altered spatial references and ambiguous characters, reshapes the visual and conceptual definition of place, space, language and subjectivity.
Essay – September 8, 2017
Imagine a young artist enrolled in a postgraduate Fine Art course. Everything discussed during class creates an atmosphere that seems hypothetical. It feels, to all intents and purposes, like a philosophy course. It is not that he is not requested to make anything exactly. He and his classmates work with theory, text, but also some materials. These things are combined as works. These works are discussed strictly in terms of the possibility of constructing meaning and shaping thought.
For him this feels like an intellectual way of making art. Sometimes, he thinks there is something missing from the process. The extreme priority given to verifying assumptions through research seems to be a way to make sure assumptions are never verified. Ideas are provided only as potential meaning. A lot is thought, but very little is thought through.
There are no artists in his family, but his parents are taking care of his art education. He went to many art galleries as a child and later as a teenager trying to imagine how fun life as an artist could be. He wondered at once how difficult his life would be and how free and fulfilling.
With time, he started to realize it’s not such an easy question. He should ask himself about the meaning of art. He should find his position with respect to the […]
Artist contribution – August 13, 2017
Verena van den Berg
You see your screen, clicking on links that lead to articles – the cursor took you were you choose to go and so seemingly, did your finger. But did it? Controlling our body, objects around us and reflecting on our actions, makes us see a self independent of surroundings. This leads to identification with abstract inner processes, which we distinguish from the biological matter of our bodies. Separation of mind and body seems the only logical conclusion. But this line of reasoning is in fact only possible through activating our motor and perception systems; our body’s ability to move and sense. We conceptualise through our bodies only and our metaphors are based on physical experiences.1 This intricate interdependency of rational and physical functions made philosopher William Poteat talk of bodymind. Dancer Mary Whitehouse suggested that the body changes through working with the mind and the mind changes through working with the body. Considering their interconnected mash this could be rephrased as: engaging physically leads to new information. If our perceiving bodymind in motion, which drives our conceptualisation, is sensitised and triggered in its response-ability, we are able to perceive more accurately what is […]
Artist contribution – August 10, 2017
Democracy holds a precarious position in times of post-truth politics, because when facts don’t matter and sensation rules, how can democracy possibly survive? In the 2017 elections for the House of Representatives in the Netherlands, France and Germany, the European Union is subject to unprecedented challenges that threaten its very existence. This seems reason enough for a young generation to explore concepts of governance and understand the democratic legacy of our predecessors.
For Declaring Reason each Graphic Design student group selected one book from a pre-curated collection of political books that form the backbone of this exhibition. Books reviewed include Atlas Maior (1662–1665) by Johannes Blaeu, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670) by Spinoza, Encyclopédie (1751–1772) by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, Social Contract (1762) by Jean Jacques Rousseau, Aan het Volk van Nederland – To the People of the Netherlands (1781) by Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol and the 1814 Dutch constitution. Each of the selected books has shaped our understanding of democracy in a particular way.
The core objective of Declaring […]
Artist contribution – August 9, 2017
Daniel Hernández and Dóra Kerekes
Daniel Hernández and Dóra Kerekes have created a digital platform, which compares selected words from Diderot’s Encyclopédie with definitions from Wikipedia. The main objective is to determine, by means of word frequency analysis, the various agencies and concerns of different historical periods. The comparison makes apparent that the common definition of truth is slowly but constantly changing.
Essay – August 7, 2017
EXT Judaea Plains – Day
At an intersection of footpaths in the Judaea Hills, an open-back truck is at a standstill in the road. It is almost empty. One person sits in the back watching people as they decide which road to take.
This is a perfect location to film the truck. Just standing here and looking around, I feel the four-thousand years people have occupied this land.1 I can almost smell the blood repeatedly shed here. I just hope it won’t rain.
The film will be the second in a series created as part of the Guava platform for art actions that advocate free movement and the removal of borders in the Middle East. It practises political imagination in the Middle East and with its residents, through film, video, performance and participatory art.
EXT Judaea Hills – Day
Samira (Arabic): What are you looking for?
Goni (Hebrew): Signal, I’m looking for a cellular signal.
Samira smiles, and gestures with her hands that there isn’t one.
A pile. A huge pile of things and people on the side of a road. This is the first image I have when I think about the film. After a few moments I notice that something is moving inside this pile, which has looked dead at first. It has life within it, moving slowly, finding its way around the pile. As usual, I tell Yuval about the idea. Almost every time I have an idea, I talk to Yuval first. At least, as long as he was living here. It could seem like technology dismisses distance, but there is a quality of dialogue and friendship that is possible only when […]
Essay – July 13, 2017
This speculative essay on demasculinization is a culmination of our (myself and André Chapatte) ongoing discussions and exchanges regarding methods for embodying (de)masculinity – understanding emotions as a strategy to rebel against the larger patriarchal capitalist system. Although the initial intention was to move towards ‘achieving gender equality’, I have since changed course in order to both construct and speculate on what demasculinization could mean and give rise to. My motivation is not just to consider the meaning and process of demasculinization, but also to create a lexicon for this potentially under-theorized idea.
We want to understand how we as men can rethink and reposition ourselves in this patriarchal society and make it less patriarchal by envisioning a different course for Homo sapiens in retrospect. How to stop ‘acting like a man’; here, I find the words of author, educator and activist Tony Porter most fitting:
Review – July 13, 2017
Almost fifty years ago, artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles coined the concept ‘maintenance art’ in her ‘Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! Proposal for an Exhibition “CARE”’ (1969). Central to maintenance art is ‘Life Instinct’, what she describes as: ‘the unification; the eternal return; the perpetuation and MAINTENANCE of the species.’ We learn from the same manifesto that the exhibition of maintenance art would ‘zero in on pure maintenance, exhibit it as contemporary art, and yield, by utter opposition, clarity of issues’. She has dedicated her practice to fulfilling this goal, clarifying through opposition, namely, the neglect of reproductive labour under capitalism.
Through writing, making and forging alliances with the press she makes both her work and the issues it advocates visible. Yet in-depth publications about her work have been largely non-existent, until now. One reason is the challenge posed by any book-length presentation on this artist – never mind an exhibition – given the abundance of her carefully executed interpersonal communications. In preparing an exhibition of her work, Queens Museum curator Larissa Harris asked: […]
Essay – June 28, 2017
Lately I have been having trouble sleeping and thinking. I believe it all started during a roundtable conversation at Matadero Madrid: Centro de Creación Contemporánea. The event was called Hypermad1 and organized by Master in Architectural Communication (MACA)2 students as part of a discussion series about the homeless. We sat down and the moderator began the debate by asking what in any other circumstances, would have been an ordinary question: ‘In which public spaces of the city do you spend more time?’ That is, it would have been a normal question for someone who wasn't addicted to urban streaming webcams 24 / 7.
Let me explain myself: I and two other colleagues (an engineer and an architect) started a project called Open Urban Television (OUT).3 It consists of placing webcams that stream 24 / 7 in the most important and iconic protest spaces of Madrid. This project takes the form of an online platform that can be accessed by any citizen at any time so they might watch what goes on in their public spaces.
Allow me to return to the breakdown episode I refer to above, triggered by the moderator’s question. The moment it was asked my mind went completely blank as I realized that the most important public space in my daily life was Puerta del […]
Essay – June 16, 2017
Tzu Nyen makes films, installations and theatrical performances out of historical and philosophical texts and artefacts. His work has been presented at the Guggenheim Museum (New York, 2013), Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (Bilbao, 2015), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, 2012) and the 54th Venice Biennale (Venice, 2011). His films have premiered at Cannes Film Festival and the 66th Venice International Film Festival.
This interview2 attempts to pierce through ‘a stretched [artistic] self’, a skin that attempts to comprehend the vastness and delirium of a region, during a time of aggressive economic integration and efficiency, growing populism and conservatism and the relapse into an internationalist gaze on Southeast Asia. How do we receive and read a community of terms, of articulations, of interconnections? To enter Tzu Nyen’s dictionary, the exchange below locates some points of apprehension that a dictionary usually evokes, while taking the chance to review some familiar and neglected terms and conditions in composing a constellation of signs and meanings. It, then, proceeds to the movement of entries, how they are being inducted into the dictionary and what they could mean as artistic positio […]
Review – April 14, 2017
This is a wise and timely book, grown out of a passion for thinking as it is intensely connected to doing. In his latest book, network cultures theorist and activist Geert Lovink scrutinizes the net behaviour of providers and users, making painfully clear the long-term consequences if we continue to uncritically bond our lives to social media platforms. While arguing for inventive forms of disengagement from the virtual world he admits that it would be difficult ‘to lose interest in something designed to be vital’. He insists on reinvigorating our attention to code and network architecture while at the same time warning against offline romanticism.
He sees politicizing hidden online infrastructures and making their workings public as an important step in retaking some control and rebuilding trust among users. By asking why the Internet has not been maintained as a public infrastructure from the beginning, he reminds us how the potential for redistributive practices has been hampered by Silicon Valley. He bravely proposes crowd funding as a system for producing the commons, where private inputs are translated into common outcomes. Recent initiatives within the art context involve Art Basel teaming up with Kickstarter and the […]
Review – April 13, 2017
A Living Earth is filled with the sound that you feel behind your ribs before your ears catch up. Sound that’s in the back of your throat before you can say you’ve heard it – darkness chips away a thousand feet below the surface – your alveoli shrink as the (w)hole gets wider and deeper. Plunging downwards, the sound buckles and you are on your knees listening to what happens after the ‘apocalypse.’1 Ore pulses throughout the sheath of rock that folds over your head. Tap the shining lines – blackness, sweat, a seething mass, a wall of sound, bodies – copper, nickel laced with pyrrhotite: metal. Feel a ringing in your molars and in your palms. ‘Something not in your ontic vicinity is exerting causal pressure on you.’2
Essay – February 24, 2017
I would like to start today with presenting a really interesting graph I encountered in a book by Tine De Moor, who is quite well-known here, as she works in Utrecht.1 In her booklet Homo cooperans (2013), she calculates the number of civic and cooperative initiatives in the Netherlands. There is linear growth from 1980 until 2005, but from then on growth is exponential. This has been confirmed in a second report by Oikos for the Flanders, which saw a ten-fold increase in less than ten years, starting in 2009.
Now, it is very easy to be pessimistic about the future, especially after the election results in the US and elsewhere, but this flowering of civic initiatives should not be discounted and shows us another type of transition is on the way as well.
What I think we are seeing today is a major shift in the value regime. Robert Moore, in his book The First European Revolution (2000), describes how until the tenth century Europe was still structured more or less as it had been during the Roman Empire. The actual political power of the Roman Empire was gone, but its type of political and social structure based on masters, slaves and freemen was still very much alive and the economic wealth was based on conquests. It took a social mobilization of the common people, resulting in a social revolution, a movement called The Peace and Truce of God. The movement started in the South of France with the massive mobilization of poor people under the leadership of the monks of Cluny to create a new social contract, which led to the transformation of the plunder economy to the feudal economy. This means a change in the value regime towards one based on extracting surplus from land. Similarly, you could think of the fifteenth century, with the invention of double bookkeeping, the printing press, the purgatory as an ideological construct and other changes that would eventually lead to the value regime of […]
Editorial – February 23, 2017
Technology / Affect / Space (T / A / S) is a conceptual and interdisciplinary research project into the interaction between technology, affect and public space initiated by Open! together with media theorist Eric Kluitenberg. It can be considered as a continuation and actualization of the Hybrid Space issue of the Open! print cahier in 2006 on the mobilization of public space facilitated – and even initiated – by wireless media. In Hybrid Space we noted that publicness has become ‘a complex of concrete and virtual qualities, of static and mobile domains, of public and private spheres, of global and local interests’ and asked how a critical position could be possible in a hybrid space that is characterized by invisible information technology. Since then Web 2.0 and wireless media have only developed further; social networks such as Facebook and Twitter came into being and mobile media devices are now ubiquitous. T / A / S takes into account the ultimate implications of this for the public sphere in exploring the dynamics, aesthetics, design and politics of an emergent techno-sensuous spatial order that we refer to as ‘Affect Space’. There have been three exploratory public events so far on this topic in 2016: Amsterdam (with De Balie […]
Essay – February 20, 2017
‘Let us not then make the future our project, let us improvise.’
– Fred Moten
‘You make clear that affect is before emotion, feeling, and perception. Is there any thing before ‘‘affect’’? – There is everything before affect: participation.’1
– WTF Affect in discussion with Brian Massumi
‘[...] improvisation’s ubiquity becomes the modality through which performance is articulated.’
– George Lewis
Essay – February 20, 2017
Baywalk Mall is one of Jakarta’s newest commercial developments, inviting visitors to ‘Enjoy True Leisure!’ The mall is located in the Green Bay Pluit super block and provides for a complete shopping and time out adventure for the residents of the seafront apartments and condominiums. This packaged experience delivers a sought-after elite lifestyle for Jakartans – for whom the water sports recreation centre; the kids entertainment zone; the fitness centre; the restaurants, cafés and boutiques; the BBQ area; the plaza and swimming pool; the three-hectare botanical park for cycling, fishing, jogging and relaxing; the twenty-four-hour security; and the closeness to the airport, medical facilities, international schools and shopping centres provide ‘a high value investment.’1 In addition to residential units, Green Bay Pluit also offers business kiosks to reach its estimated 20,000 inhabitants with new services and products.
On the ground floor of Baywalk Mall is an extremely large model of yet another ambitious development connected to Green Bay Pluit by multiple stylish bridges. Pluit City will be a 160- hectare ‘stunning modern city’ on reclaimed artificial land half the size of New York […]