Like Bruce Lee says: Be Water

We recommand the article “Like Bruce Lee says: Be Water” in Elephant Magazine for Art and Culture No. 23 (Summer 2015) about fluid aspects in “Post-Internet” art.
Kari Altmann’s interview about behaving like a content feed is juxtaposed with Hito Steyerl’s movie “Liquidity. Inc”…

Liquid Intelligence and the Aesthetics of Fluidity

Conference, October 25-26, 2013
McGill University Montréal

website: liquidintelligenceconference

Confirmed Speakers: Caroline Arscott (Courtauld Institute of Art) • Fabio Barry (Stanford University) • Matthew C. Hunter (McGill University) • Yukio Lippit (Harvard University) • Jeffrey Moser (McGill University) • Alexander Nemerov (Stanford University) • Jennifer L. Roberts (Harvard University) • Itay Sapir (UQAM) with responses by Sarah Hamill (Oberlin College) and Martha Langford (Concordia University)

In an influential essay, contemporary artist Jeff Wall has sketched a suggestive genealogy linking chemical photography to a range of fluid processes and their modes of “liquid intelligence.” By Wall’s telling, wet procedures done in the dark historically connect photography to a vast, subterranean network of primordial acts of chemical transformation like dyeing and bleaching. But, the pull of liquids on art and aesthetic imagination runs deeper still. From the unctuous stains of Titian’s macchie to Ed Ruscha’s “liquid word” paintings—from Kenneth Anger’s filmic imagination of the Renaissance garden’s ritualized, watery flows to the “boggy, soggy, squitchy” picture that flummoxes Ishmael at Melville’s Spouter-Inn—the urge to sound the fluid image abides. Where Walter Pater would explain Leonardo’s strange imaginings as like sight “in some brief interval of falling rain at daybreak, or through deep water,” no less central a theorist of pictorial ontology than Leon Battista Alberti appealed to the myth of Narcissus. “What is painting,” Alberti asks, “but the act of embracing by means of art the surface of the pool?”

Hosted through the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University and Media@McGill, this conference aims to thematize liquid intelligence and the broader aesthetics of fluidity in which it moves. Drawing together leading, international scholars, the conference seeks to open conversations around conceptions of photography, painting, and other fluid strategies made perceptible by pushing upon liquid intelligence. Can an ingenuity of liquid realization be constructively compared, we might ask, to the raw, “fluid” smarts that psychologists oppose to formal, “crystallized” intelligence? Might the theoretical heuristic of liquid thinking devised for a recent, proximate past help flush out the modalities of more distant minds responsible for, say, the oozing, oil-spotted glazes of medieval tenmoku tea wares or the inky insubstantiality of Zen patriarch portraits? If we, like the intergalactic researchers in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, are influenced by the hegemonic, fluid images we study, how might those subtle currents work to dissolve the dry media genealogies and hoary theoretical constructs that continue inform much thinking on relations between photography, painting and other arts past and present?

Monday Begins on Saturday

Monday Begins on Saturday is the title of the first edition of Bergen Assembly, and takes the form of an international exhibition, publication, and symposium.

It is a critical meditation on the potentials and pitfalls of the evermore ubiquitous yet at the same time elusive notion of “artistic research.” The project takes its title from a novel by Soviet sci-fi writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky about a fictitious research institute staffed by a motley assemblage of fairytale beings and mad scientists who are trying to solve the problem of human happiness through magic. The first edition of Bergen’s new triennial is an oblique contemporary re-writing of this text as a multi-venue exhibition and book.

The Strugatsky Brothers published Monday Begins on Saturday in 1964, at the height of the Cold War Soviet research boom. It tells the story of a programmer who gets sidetracked by hitchhikers while vacationing in the Northern region of Karelia, and winds up working at the Research Institute for Wizardry and Sorcery, which is organized into sections such as the Department of Prophecies and Predictions or the Department of Linear Happiness. Its researchers are on a modest quest to solve all of humanity’s problems. The institute’s main philosophy is dialectical: positivism and vulgar materialism must be fought off at all costs and opposed with the weapons of magic and the imagination. Its ethic of incessant research—alluded to in the title of the novel—is similarly dialectical: an ideal life of perpetual inquiry and thinking, opposed to the quick fixes of consumerism and immediate satisfaction. Here even knowledge of the future should not be “consumed”—it must remain an open horizon. But this utopian atmosphere is secured by almost inexhaustible state support, propped up by an ever-growing bureaucracy, and protected from the demands of the market. Although some institute researchers even want to work on New Year’s Eve, others nonetheless become terribly complacent, which leads to a profuse growth of hair on their ears…

Stoffe in Bewegung

Eine historische Epistemologie der materiellen Welt

Workshop: 6.-7. April 2013
Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens Zürich

Mobilität und Wandel, die zentralen Imperative im Zeitalter des globalisierten Weltmarktes, gelten auch für die materiellen Grundlagen der Welt. Permanent werden Stoffe und Substanzen bewegt und verändert, um vorhandene Dinge zu variieren und zu vervielfältigen, oder neue zu entwerfen. Wir möchten im Workshop diese Phänomenologie der modernen materiellen Welt zum Ausgangspunkt einer Auseinandersetzung mit Stofflichkeit nehmen. Was, wenn die materielle Welt erst durch permanente stoffliche Translokation und Transformation zu dem wird, was sie ist? Statische Stoffontologien und naturwissenschaftlicher Elementen- essenzialismus werden dem nicht gerecht. Doch was könnte an ihre Stelle gesetzt werden? In der Diskussion sind viele Begriffe und Denkfiguren – Stoffströme, Materialflüsse, Stoffwechselprozesse, um nur die wichtigsten zu nennen. Doch auch diese Deutungsangebote müssen in ihrer Historizität und ihren epistemischen Eigenmächtigkeiten kritisch mit in den stoffhistorischen Blick genommen werden.

In dem Workshop werden präzirkulierte Manuskripte zu einem geplanten Themenheft diskutiert. Der Workshop ist jedoch öffentlich und für weitere TeilnehmerInnen offen. (Beiträge)

Organisiert von Kijan Espahangizi (ZGW) und Barbara Orland (Universität Basel).

Ectoplasm and the Quest for a Supra-Normal Physiology

CSTMS Colloquium
“A medium is a medium is a medium”
Ectoplasm and the Quest for a Supra-Normal Physiology
By Robert Brain, The University of British Columbia

Thursday 26 April
UC Berkeley
Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society
470 Stephens Hall

The French physiologist Charles Richet in the 1890’s proposed that the strange phenomena of “materialization” observed in spiritualist séances—slime oozing from the bodily orifices of the spiritualist medium—should be understood as “ectoplasm,” as extrusions of protoplasm out of the body of the medium “precisely as a pseudopod from an amoeboid cell.” Ghosts and table-turning were out, replaced by the biological equivalent of the ether, the ubiquitous protoplasmic prima materia responsible for transferring vibrations within all cells of all living beings. Richet’s proposal also framed the investigation not as a question of physics or psychology, but as a question of what Gustave Geley and Hans Driesch would respectively call “supra-normal physiology” or “supernormal biology,” a pursuit poised on the cusp between psychical research and the nascent discipline of plasmogeny or synthetic biology. This paper argues that this notion of biological investigation under special conditions reveals important dimensions of broader early 20th century debates about the nature of living substance and its properties such as mobility, plasticity, autonomy, and temporality. It also makes suggestions about the stakes of the “cellular politics” that swirled around these bizarre experiments.

This event sponsored by OHST, STSC, CSTMS

CANCELLED: “A medium is a medium is a medium”: Ectoplasm and the Quest for a Supra-Normal Physiology