Archive for the ‘Book-Text-Read-Zines’ Category

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Places of healing [The Library: A World History]

November 8, 2013

Mafra Palace Library in Mafra, Portugal

Tripitaka Koreana at the Haeinsa Temple in South Korea

Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena, Italy

Codrington Library at All Souls College in Oxford

Abbey of St Gall Library in St Gallen, Switzerland

George Peabody Library, Baltimore

“Will this study serve merely as a memorial to a defunct building type?” James W. P. Campbell poses this troubling question at the start of his odyssey through the library buildings of the world. Over 300 pages – and nearly 300 illustrations – later he answers his own query with cautious optimism: “humankind has created an extraordinary variety of spaces in which to read, to think, to dream and to celebrate knowledge. As long as it continues to value these activities, it will continue to build places to house them. Whether they will involve books or will still be called libraries only time will tell”.

Well, this is Thames and Hudson’s third attempt in a decade to get to grips with this theme. And it is by far the best. The first, The Most Beautiful Libraries of the World by Jacques Bosser and Guillaume de Laubier (2003), was little more than a picturebook with anecdotal captions. The coverage was primarily European and post-Renaissance: only Boston, Washington, New York and St Petersburg slipped inside the cultural fence. The second attempt – Libraries (2005) – was sadly defective: a random package of images by Candida Hofer, without text apart from a rambling preface by Umberto Eco. On every count – scholarship, production, readability – The Library: A world history is way ahead of its predecessors, particularly with regards to production and design. The photographs by Will Pryce are technically flawless, and they give point and purpose to a text which is not only informative but persuasive. The message is clear: of the making of libraries there can be no end.

The Library: A World History Hardcover
by James W. P. Campbell (Author), Will Pryce (Photographer)

Excerpt from an article written by J. MORDAUNT CROOK at TLS. Continue THERE

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W.H. Auden and Ecopoetics

November 1, 2013

W.H. Auden is a Greek poet, at least when it comes to nature. No, I don’t mean that he is all about olive trees and white sand beaches: I mean there is something fundamentally classical in his attitude toward the natural world, something that puts him at odds with the two dominant modes of nature poetry of our time—something that, indeed, casts light on the outlines of those norms.

The two most common attitudes toward non-human nature in contemporary poetry are the Romantic (or sentimental—if we can use that word without condescension) and the ecopoetic. The first of these dates back more than two centuries, and receives its most powerful theoretical articulation in Friedrich Schiller’s great essay of 1795, “On Simple and Sentimental Poetry.” Here, Schiller begins by describing the longing for the realm of nature among self-conscious and sophisticated people:

There are moments in our life, when we dedicate a kind of love and touching respect to nature in its plants, minerals, animals, landscapes . . . not because it is pleasing to our senses, not even because it satisfies our understanding or taste . . . but rather merely because it is nature. Every fine man, who does not altogether lack feeling, experiences this, when he walks in the open, when he lives upon the land . . . in short, when he is surprised in artificial relations and situations with the sight of simple nature.

Excerpt from a text written by Robert Archambeau at the Boston Review. Continue THERE

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The Untold Story of Che in Bolivia

November 1, 2013

The tribulations of Che Guevara, the T-shirt Christ, still continue to fascinate, almost half a century after he was executed in the Bolivian jungle; so, too, continues the hunt for the Judas who betrayed him. A prime suspect has long been the artist Ciro Bustos, who, caught by the CIA-backed Bolivian crack squad sent to track down the Argentinian revolutionary, was accused of providing sketches of his old comrades. A few weeks later, Che was captured and gunned down in cold blood. After a silence over four decades long, Bustos has produced his defence. It makes for a fascinating read, a beautifully written and melancholy tribute to the energy and madness that drove Che to help Castro to overthrow Batista in Cuba and led to his death in Bolivia.

Bustos does something else, too: he writes with real passion about what it was to be a child of the revolution in South America – the excitement, the glamour, the allure of trying to bring down capitalism – in that time as red in tooth and claw as can be. We first meet Che in the flesh in Havana when he is competing against a blind chess master: ‘the ceiling fans were working overtime trying to recycle the air, but it was like stirring soup in which the audience were cooking’. Bustos came to Cuba in 1961 packed to the gunwhales with enthusiasm, but even then he sensed Stalinist sectarianism gnawing at the revolution’s great heart. A woman warned him, ‘your disillusionment will be very painful, I’m afraid. Communists are coming out of the woodwork like mice, taking over everything, to get at the cheese.’ He writes that ‘the phrase remained engraved in my memory like a hieroglyphic chiselled in granite’.

Excerpt from a text by Ciro Bustos. Continue HERE

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Senses Of Vibration: A History of the Pleasure and Pain of Sound

October 22, 2013

The study of the senses has become a rich topic in recent years. Senses of Vibration explores a wide range of sensory experience and makes a decisive new contribution to this growing field by focussing not simply on the senses as such, but on the material experience – vibration – that underpins them.
This is the first book to take the theme of vibration as central, offering an interdisciplinary history of the phenomenon and its reverberations in the cultural imaginary. It tracks vibration through the work of a wide range of writers, including physiologists (who thought vibrations in the nerves delivered sensations to the brain), physicists (who claimed that light, heat, electricity and other forms of energy were vibratory), spiritualists (who figured that spiritual energies also existed in vibratory form), and poets and novelists from Coleridge to Dickens and Wells. Senses of Vibration is a work of scholarship that cuts through a range of disciplines and will reverberate for many years to come.

Senses of Vibration
A History of the Pleasure and Pain of Sound
By: Shelley Trower

Text & Image via Bloomsbury

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T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land Project: An online exhibit/performance project devised by Christopher Domig and Daniel Domig

October 16, 2013

“The Waste Land”, an exhibit/performance project, is a collaboration between artist Daniel Domig and actor Christopher Domig. T.S. Eliot’s work has been an inspiration for both artists over the years in their individual disciplines. This current collaboration will create an experience that is both a fully realized exhibit during the day and a complete theatrical performance at night, occupying the same space.

Eliot’s “The Waste Land” lends itself ideally for this endeavor, as it was written as a poem (neither an actor’s script, nor an artist’s playground). It is precisely due to its poetic form that other disciplines have, and continue to approach it with the same degree of alienation and familiarity, a dynamic that has been the catalyst to new work ever since it was published in 1922.

“The Waste Land” will be exhibited and performed in a neutral space (neither the artist’s white box, nor the actor’s black box). The space will be large enough for visitors to walk among the installation during the day as well as move around the space during the performance. The ability to move freely throughout the experience mirrors the poem’s inherent fragmentation (a literary, artistic and theatrical device mainly familiar to us due to Eliot’s use of it in his poem)

Follow The Waste Land Project on Facebook and Tumblr.

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Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series)

October 1, 2013

Dispossession describes the condition of those who have lost land, citizenship, property, and a broader belonging to the world. This thought-provoking book seeks to elaborate our understanding of dispossession outside of the conventional logic of possession, a hallmark of capitalism, liberalism, and humanism. Can dispossession simultaneously characterize political responses and opposition to the disenfranchisement associated with unjust dispossession of land, economic and political power, and basic conditions for living?

In the context of neoliberal expropriation of labor and livelihood, dispossession opens up a performative condition of being both affected by injustice and prompted to act. From the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa to the anti-neoliberal gatherings at Puerta del Sol, Syntagma and Zucchotti Park, an alternative political and affective economy of bodies in public is being formed. Bodies on the street are precarious – exposed to police force, they are also standing for, and opposing, their dispossession. These bodies insist upon their collective standing, organize themselves without and against hierarchy, and refuse to become disposable: they demand regard. This book interrogates the agonistic and open-ended corporeality and conviviality of the crowd as it assembles in cities to protest political and economic dispossession through a performative dispossession of the sovereign subject and its propriety.

Text and Image via Politybooks

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Phenomenology never goes out of date

September 26, 2013

Susanna Siegel is the major philosophical mentalist who gets into our heads and deep into the depths of philosophical phenomenology, epistemic downgrades, how the issues can be approached from different traditions, considers a gun in a fridge, how priming examples don’t reveal underlying psychological mechanisms, cognitive modularity and what it does and doesn’t insulate, top-down effects, the rational accessibility of perception, the contents of visual experience, the richness of perception and what to do about sexism in professional philosophy. Off we go.

3:AM: You remember ‘….staring up at the ceiling as a little girl and wondering whether the marks she saw on the white surface were tiny holes or tiny dots.’ So was that when you decided you’d be a philosopher?

Susanna Siegel: I was around 4 when I wondered about the ceiling. I wanted to be a philosopher when I read Alice in Wonderland and Raymond Smullyan’s “What is the Name of this Book?” around age 7.

3:AM: Are you a very up to date phenomenologist? Can you say something about your philosophical interests in all things perceptual?

SS: Phenomenology never goes out of date.

3:AM: You talk about cases where prior mental states interfere with perception. Can you talk about this idea and why this might lead to what you call an epistemic downgrade?

SS: Suppose you are afraid that I am angry at you, and your fear makes me look angry to you when you see me. Do you get any reason from your experience to believe that I’m angry at you? There’s something fishy and even perverse about the idea that your fears can get confirmed by fear-induced experience. I focus on the general notion of rationality. I am interested in the epistemic status of the type of “top-down” influences on perception from fears and desires. If you could confirm your fears through such fear-influenced experiences, rational confirmation of fears would be too cheap.

Continue interview of Susanna Siegel by Richard Marshall at 3AM Magazine

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What does George Orwell have in common with Edward Snowden?

September 26, 2013

George Orwell was not a political thinker, exactly. Sure, he wrote books like 1984 and Animal Farm. Those books are political. Or better put, they are political thought experiments in novel form. Orwell liked to think about totalitarianism. He created fictional scenarios like 1984 in order to think through the logic of totalitarianism, to find out how it works. Orwell’s essays, too, are often about politics. He wondered if it was possible to create a decent Socialism in the aftermath of the debacle of real-life Socialism, as it existed in the Soviet Union.
The power of Orwell’s writing came from his honesty about the actions and motivations of human beings making decisions in a messy world. So maybe it is best to say that Orwell was thinking about politics without being a political scientist. He wasn’t good at looking at politics from a distanced, objective point of view in order to suss out general laws. That’s why one of his best political essays is a story about shooting an elephant in Burma. It is a story of Orwell himself.

As a young man, Orwell got a job as an imperial policeman in Burma. He was working for the British crown. This was the 1920s. The British Empire still lorded over many parts of East Asia. Orwell realized quickly that he was a symbol of oppression to most Burmese. He was harassed in the streets, especially by the young Buddhist priests who seemed to have nothing to do, “except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans.” This bothered Orwell, a sensitive chap with little taste for flexing his authority as a policeman. In short, Orwell felt immensely guilty about his role as a tiny cog in the British imperial machine. The guilt made him angry and the anger tore him in two. He wrote that he was “stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible.”

Excerpt from an article written by Idle Chatter at The Smart Set. Continue THERE

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The Secrets of Alchemy: No nearer the Philosopher’s Stone

September 26, 2013

Lawrence M. Principe’s The Secrets of Alchemy is a deeply gratifying book that brilliantly unveils the hidden wonders of that most shadowy and misunderstood art. Alchemy has not always been associated with esoteric mystics muttering necromantic incantations in the quest for spiritual purification. For much of its history, Principe reveals, alchemy was recognized as a sophisticated pursuit entailing the vigorous exertion of mind and hand, a convergence of laboratory experimentation and theoretical speculation that yielded spectacular control of chemical processes. To protect their hard-earned knowledge, alchemists wrote under pseudonyms and encrypted discoveries in mystical-sounding codenames (Decknamen). While this contributed to alchemy’s association with mysticism, Principe argues persuasively that its traditional essence lay in the expert combining of substances, and that no account of it can rightfully ignore its experimental and material foundations.

Principe’s most robust evidence derives from his own laboratory expertise and philological sleuthing. By deciphering the substances concealed under Decknamen and re-creating the reactions elaborated in seemingly obscure texts, he reveals alchemists to be proficient manipulators of chemical phenomena, capable of creating remarkable effects through distillation, fermentation, cupellation and more. Alchemy’s experimentalism, marriage of theory and practice, as well as attention to material causality explain the enthusiasm with which luminaries of early modern science such as Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle practised it.

Excerpt from an article written by NICHOLAS POPPER at TLS. Continue THERE

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Silicon and surveillance: A tale of big data and bigger conspiracies

September 24, 2013


Thomas Pynchon’s novels have several recurring themes: paranoia and conspiracy, pastiches of high and low culture, synchronicity and coincidence, shadowy networks lurking around every corner, and the impact of science and technology. With the coming of the Internet age and the surveillance society that sprang up in the wake of 11 September 2001, it seems as though reality has finally caught up with his vision. In his latest work, Bleeding Edge, Pynchon takes full advantage of this convergence.

The first question asked of a new Pynchon book is: is this one of the sprawling, spiralling, time-tripping monsters with innumerable characters and a plot that is tricky to bring into focus, like Gravity’s Rainbow or Against the Day; or is it one of the fun detective stories with a well-defined protagonist, like The Crying of Lot 49 or Inherent Vice? Bleeding Edge is definitely in the latter category. There is a colourful cast of memorable personalities, and high jinks often ensue, but the tale is told linearly, from the point of view of an acknowledged main character, with something approximating an explicit goal.

Excerpt from an article written by Sean M. Carroll at Nature. Continue THERE

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When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning A teacher’s quest to discourage his students from mindlessly reciting information.

September 14, 2013

Some things are worth memorizing–addresses, PINs, your parents’ birthdays. The sine of π/2 is not among them. It’s a fact that matters only insofar as it connects to other ideas. To learn it in isolation is like learning the sentence “Hamlet kills Claudius” without the faintest idea of who either gentleman is–or, for what matter, of what “kill” means. Memorization is a frontage road: It runs parallel to the best parts of learning, never intersecting. It’s a detour around all the action, a way of knowing without learning, of answering without understanding.

Memorization has enjoyed a surge of defenders recently. They argue that memorization exercises the brain and even fuels deep insights. They say our haste to purge old-school skills-driven teaching from our schools has stranded a generation of students upriver without a paddle. They recommend new apps aiming to make drills fun instead of tedious. Most of all, they complain that rote learning has become taboo, rather than accepted as a healthy part of a balanced scholastic diet.

Excerpt from an article written by BEN ORLIN at The Atlantic. Continue THERE

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An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence by Bruno Latour

September 12, 2013

The result of a twenty five years inquiry, it offers a positive version to the question raised, only negatively, with the publication, in 1991, of ”We have never been modern”: if ”we” have never been modern, then what have ”we” been? From what sort of values should ”we” inherit? In order to answer this question, a research protocol has been developed that is very different from the actor-network theory. The question is no longer only to define ”associations” and to follow networks in order to redefine the notion of ”society” and ”social” (as in ”Reassembling the Social”) but to follow the different types of connectors that provide those networks with their specific tonalities. Those modes of extension, or modes of existence, account for the many differences between law, science, politics, and so on. This systematic effort for building a new philosophical anthropology offers a completely different view of what the ”Moderns” have been and thus a very different basis for opening a comparative anthropology with the other collectives – at the time when they all have to cope with ecological crisis. Thanks to a European research council grant (2011-2014) the printed book will be associated with a very original purpose built digital platform allowing for the inquiry summed up in the book to be pursued and modified by interested readers who will act as co-inquirers and co-authors of the final results. With this major book, readers will finally understand what has led to so many apparently disconnected topics and see how the symmetric anthropology begun forty years ago can come to fruition.

Text and Image via Bruno Latour

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Shedding the Superwoman Myth

September 10, 2013

Debora L. Spar writes: In 2005, I was teaching a first-year class at Harvard Business School. As usual, slightly under a third of my students were women. As always, I was the only female professor.

So one evening, my female students asked me and one of my female colleagues to join them for cocktails. They ordered a lovely spread of hors d’oeuvres and white wine. They presented each of us with an elegant lavender plant. And then, like women meeting for cocktails often do, they—well, we, actually—proceeded to complain. About how tough it was to be so constantly in the minority. About how the guys sucked up all the air around the school. About the folks in career services who told them never to wear anything but a good black pantsuit to an interview.

Over the course of the conversation, though, things began to turn. The women stopped talking about their present lives and started to focus on their futures, futures that had little to do with conferences or pantsuits and everything to do with babies, and families, and men. Most of the women were frankly intending to work “for a year or two” and then move into motherhood. These were some of the smartest and most determined young women in the country. They had Ivy League degrees, for the most part, and were in the midst of paying more than $100,000 for an M.B.A. And yet they were already deeply concerned about how they would juggle their lives, and surprisingly pessimistic about their chances of doing so.

Continue text at The Chronicle of Higher Education

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How far can provocation in art go, before it becomes cynical and abusive? Scandalous: A Reader on Art and Ethics

September 10, 2013

Recent encounters between art and real life, the ubiquity of images of violence and humiliation in visual culture and the media, and the persistence of controversial debates on public and participatory art projects are raising fundamental questions about the importance of ethical decisions in art and curating. How far can provocation in art go, before it becomes cynical and abusive? Does “good censorship” exist? Are ethical decisions seen as more urgent in participatory art?

This reader introduces current notions of ethics in several contexts related to the cultural field. Responding to the instrumentalization of ethics as a privileged tool of neoliberalism, the reader claims the need for an ethics that critically reflects the mechanisms of contemporary global power structures. The contributions discuss models of subjective and situational ethics and pit them against a canon of unquestioned principles and upturned notions of ethics and human rights.

Texts by Petra Bauer and Annette Krauss, Franco Bifo Berardi, Galit Eilat, Ronald Jones, Maria Karlsson and Måns Wrange, Nina Möntmann, Peter Osborne, Marcus Steinweg, Nato Thompson; conversations between Simon Critchley and Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro, Renzo Martens and T. J. Demos

Scandalous: A Reader on Art and Ethics
Nina Möntmann

Text and Image via Sternberg Press

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Letting Go

September 8, 2013

In 1968, a letter to The British Medical Journal titled “Not Allowed to Die” described the ordeal of a retired 68-year-old doctor admitted to “an overseas hospital” (almost certainly in America) with metastatic stomach cancer. After much of his stomach was surgically removed and a blood clot cleared from his lung, he asked that “no further steps be taken to prolong his life, for the pain of his cancer was now more than he would needlessly continue to endure.” Two weeks later the unfortunate doctor had a heart attack in the hospital. His heart was shocked and restarted five times in a single night; morning found him in a persistent vegetative state. His body remained alive for another three weeks.

That hellish situation, rare in the rest of the world, is all too common in this country. Although most of us claim no desire to die with a tube down our throat and on a ventilator, the fact is, as Katy Butler reminds us in “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” a fifth of American deaths now take place in intensive care, where 10 days of futile flailing can cost as much as $323,000, as it did for one California man.

Butler’s introduction to the surreal world of health “care” at the end of life was precipitated by the sudden illness of her father, a native of South Africa. Jeffrey Butler lost his arm while serving in World War II. He married, earned a Ph.D. from Oxford and settled into academic life in the United States. He was a charismatic father, the sort who would “stand in our bedroom doorways and say good night to my two brothers and me quoting Horatio’s farewell to the dying Hamlet: ‘May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!’ ” At 79 he was active and enjoying retirement when he suffered a stroke. Soon after hospitalization a “discharge planner” told the family that Jeffrey had to be immediately transferred to a neurological rehabilitation facility. “Only later would I understand the rush,” Butler writes. “The hospital was losing money on him with every passing day. Out of $20,228 in services performed and billed, Medicare would reimburse Middlesex Memorial only $6,559, a lump sum based on the severity of my father’s stroke diagnosis.”

Excerpt from an article written by ABRAHAM VERGHESE at the NYT. Continue THERE

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Where do artifacts go when they are destroyed? | Journal #47 September 2013 | e-flux

September 7, 2013

Boris Groys
Becoming Revolutionary: On Kazimir Malevich

After all, what is revolution? It is not the process of building a new society—this is the goal of the post-revolutionary period. Rather, revolution is the radical destruction of the existing society. However, to accept this revolutionary destruction is not an easy psychological operation. We tend to resist the radical forces of destruction, we tend to be compassionate and nostalgic toward our past—and maybe even more so toward our endangered present.

Nato Thompson
The Insurgents, Part I: Community-Based Practice as Military Methodology
The US military is seductive and repulsive in its grandiose violence. But it is also a fruitful place to examine developing techniques for the manipulation of culture. Considering the sheer scale of the US military—with its colossal budget—it’s not a bad place to look for new ideas and new methodologies concerning tactics for “getting to know people.”

Amanda Boetzkes and Andrew Pendakis
Visions of Eternity: Plastic and the Ontology of Oil

If plastic appears irreducible—appears to be a constitutive basis, instead of having emerged from and subsequently effaced its earthly basis—then the challenge is to uncover what plastic so readily disguises. Plastic is a petroleum product that claims at least a quarter of all the oil extracted. More than this, though, it is through plastics that we begin to fathom the complete permeation of oil into every facet of cultural life.

Jon Rich
The Bachelor Century: Single Sinners Seeking God’s Job

A soldier in the battlefield kills indiscriminately—gunfire and stabbings directed at whomever happens to be present. In contrast, the target of the bomb in Hiroshima is entirely ethnic, akin to the way Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi’s chose his victims. It is a crime against the human race, or a part of that race, because the bomb acts without regard for the political views of its victims. To be murdered because you are American, or Japanese, or Kurdish, or Christian, or Muslim is fundamentally different from being targeted because you are a soldier.

Claire Fontaine
We Are All Clitoridian Women: Notes on Carla Lonzi’s Legacy

In the Italian feminist ultra-left of Lonzi’s time, a deep connection between knowledge of oneself—especially of one’s own pleasure—and satisfaction was regarded as the only way to reach autonomy. There was a vivid awareness that colonization operates through the mind and the body, and the only way to reach freedom was working on one’s own subjectivity.

Lars Bang Larsen
The Society Without Qualities

Money is the one thing that connects us and that we cannot truly have in common. In societies without qualities we can, in theory, have any number of things in common. However, after the decline of symbolic orders, it is an enormous effort to call them up and give them words and form. Remember, this is the desert of the real … So never mind good intentions, they won’t get us anywhere: when art addresses the future in (self-)skeptical ways, it refuses nostalgia and hope as sentimental compensations for an uncertain future.

Where do artifacts go when they are destroyed? | Journal #47 September 2013 | e-flux
Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle
Editorial

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Punk Anteriors: Genealogy, Theory, Performance.

July 26, 2013

As punk reformulated topics and modes of resistance in the late 1970s, the impact of wars in Southeast Asia, as well as continuing histories of imperialist aggression elsewhere, served as a way for Los Angeles’s racially and sexually diverse punk scene to imagine itself as resistant through (sometimes simultaneous) affiliation with and disassociation from the state, military, and acts of capitalist violence. This article reimagines the context for punk’s politics by following racial, residential, and economic patterns, the influx of refugees, and the subsequent reimagination of punk spaces such as Hollywood, the Canterbury Apartments, and Chinatown to trace themes of race, sexuality, and violence.

Text via Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory – Volume 22.
See more HERE

www.womenandperformance.org

Fully free Issue HERE

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Does Europe Exist?

July 24, 2013

The Hungarian philosopher Agnes Heller, in a chapter she contributed to a book published in 1992, stated with some confidence her view that there was no such thing as European culture. There was certainly, she wrote, Italian and German music, and Florentine and Venetian painting, “but there is no European music and no European painting”.

It is true that the history of art and culture was not really Heller’s field, but it would seem that those who, in the same year as she wrote her essay, framed the Maastricht Treaty, signalling the transition from European Community to European Union, at least partially agreed with her. The treaty was the first time the community had taken for itself significant powers in the cultural field. European cultures (note the plural), the relevant article stated, were to be understood as requiring “respect” – by which one understands freedom from too much supranational interference (“The Community shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity …”). At the same time however, the Community was to be entrusted with the task of “[b]ringing the common cultural heritage to the fore”.

Excerpt from an essay written by Enda O’Doherty at DBR. Continue THERE

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Against the Sublime by James Elkins (2009, revised 2013)

July 24, 2013

This paper explores the uses of the sublime in recent art theory, philosophy, and literary criticism, focusing on Weiskel, Hertz, and Lyotard. I propose that the concept of the sublime, and the postmodern sublime in particular, are over-used tropes in critical writing. They sometimes serve a covert religious purpose, as a way of smuggling theological concepts into secular discourse; and they are stand-ins for notions of epistemological, linguistic, and psychological failures that do not require the specific discourse of the sublime.

Text and Images HERE

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Anti-Media. Ephemera on Speculative Arts

July 23, 2013

Florian Cramer, lecturer at the Rotterdam based Willem de Kooning Academy, demonstrates in his new collection of essays Anti-Media, how media and art critique constantly reflect on their own tradition, language and manifestations, while at the same time trying to subvert them.

In the essays Cramer presents and analyzes a wide range of subcultures – from Internet porn to neo-Nazi’s and anti-copyright activists – and offers a critical view on their imagery and poetry, plagiarism and automatisms.

Cramer asserts that art coexists with ‘anti-art’, and that the term ‘media’ is just as vague, or unfixed, as is ‘art’. Even so, both ‘art’ and ‘media’ resist elimination, and this is why the author introduces the term ‘anti-media’. Anti-media is what remains when people eliminate the concept of media – whether old or new – yet fail to discard it.

In this spirited collection of essays, Anti-Media, Florian Cramer discusses a thought-provoking variety of topics that come together in an unexpected manner. The topics range from internet art, pop culture and 17th century poetry, to electronic literature, amateurism, post-digitality, Rotterdam and Rosicrucians. Anti-Media proposes that high, low and subcultures can no longer be separated from each other, and that this also holds for the extent to which they refer to each other.

Text and Image via Network Cultures

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Introducing Culture Identities: Design for Museums, Theaters and Cultural Institutions

July 9, 2013

An inside look by designers and clients at graphic design’s main playground and proving ground–working for cultural institutions.

This book takes an inside look at graphic design’s main playground and proving ground—working for cultural institutions. One would be hard pressed to find another area of graphic design in which the work is so fresh and experimental and so often serves as a precursor for future visual trends.

Introducing: Culture Identities features outstanding poster campaigns, publications, and cross-platform corporate design for international cultural institutions by both young designers, who are striving to prove themselves creatively, and established studios, who are experimenting with new forms of visual expression. In the book, readers not only hear from designers who are especially active in the cultural field, such as Bureau Mirko Borsche, the New York-based studio 2×4, James Goggin, and Johannes Erler, but also from notables on the client side including MoMA, the Barbican, Van Abbemuseum, and documenta.

With its selection of striking collaborations between innovative designers and visionary cultural institutions, Introducing: Culture Identities presents the field of visual identities for cultural clients as a continuous dialogue that pushes the limit of what is possible creatively.

Text and Image via Gestalten

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Moving without a Body: Digital Philosophy and Choreographic Thoughts

July 9, 2013

Digital technologies offer the possibility of capturing, storing, and manipulating movement, abstracting it from the body and transforming it into numerical information. In Moving without a Body, Stamatia Portanova considers what really happens when the physicality of movement is translated into a numerical code by a technological system. Drawing on the radical empiricism of Gilles Deleuze and Alfred North Whitehead, she argues that this does not amount to a technical assessment of software’s capacity to record motion but requires a philosophical rethinking of what movement itself is, or can become.

Discussing the development of different audiovisual tools and the shift from analog to digital, she focuses on some choreographic realizations of this evolution, including works by Loie Fuller and Merce Cunningham. Throughout, Portanova considers these technologies and dances as ways to think—rather than just perform or perceive—movement. She distinguishes the choreographic thought from the performance: a body performs a movement, and a mind thinks or choreographs a dance. Similarly, she sees the move from analog to digital as a shift in conception rather than simply in technical realization. Analyzing choreographic technologies for their capacity to redesign the way movement is thought, Moving without a Body offers an ambitiously conceived reflection on the ontological implications of the encounter between movement and technological systems.

Moving without a Body: Digital Philosophy and Choreographic Thoughts by Stamatia Portanova. Text and Image via MIT Press

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Participatory Composition: Video Culture, Writing, and Electracy

July 9, 2013

Like. Share. Comment. Subscribe. Embed. Upload. Check in. The commands of the modern online world relentlessly prompt participation and encourage collaboration, connecting people in ways not possible even five years ago. This connectedness no doubt influences college writing courses in both form and content, creating possibilities for investigating new forms of writing and student participation. In this innovative volume, Sarah J. Arroyo argues for a “participatory composition,” inspired by the culture of online video sharing and framed by theorist Gregory Ulmer’s concept of electracy.

Electracy, according to Ulmer, “is to digital media what literacy is to alphabetic writing.” Although electracy can be compared to digital literacy, it is not something shut on and off with the power buttons on computers or mobile devices. Rather, electracy encompasses the cultural, institutional, pedagogical, and ideological implications inherent in the transition from a culture of print literacy to a culture saturated with electronic media, regardless of the presence of actual machines.

Arroyo explores the apparatus of electracy in many of its manifestations while focusing on the participatory practices found in online video culture, particularly on YouTube. Chapters are devoted to questions of subjectivity, definition, authorship, and pedagogy. Utilizing theory and incorporating practical examples from YouTube, classrooms, and other social sites, Arroyo presents accessible and practical approaches for writing instruction. Additionally, she outlines the concept of participatory composition by highlighting how it manifests in online video culture, offers student examples of engagement with the concept, and advocates participatory approaches throughout the book.

Arroyo presents accessible and practical possibilities for teaching and learning that will benefit scholars of rhetoric and composition, media studies, and anyone interested in the cultural and instructional implications of the digital age.

Text and Image via Amazon Books

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City Archives – Tasveer Journal

July 9, 2013

The Tasveer Journal is an online magazine for photography in India. New articles are added each week showcasing work from the 19th century to today – contributed and contextualised by our network of critics, writers and curators.

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Philosophical Temperaments: From Plato to Foucault

May 23, 2013

Peter Sloterdijk turns his keen eye to the history of western thought, conducting colorful readings of the lives and ideas of the world’s most influential intellectuals. Featuring nineteen vignettes rich in personal characterizations and theoretical analysis, Sloterdijk’s companionable volume casts the development of philosophical thinking not as a buildup of compelling books and arguments but as a lifelong, intimate struggle with intellectual and spiritual movements, filled with as many pitfalls and derailments as transcendent breakthroughs.

Sloterdijk delves into the work and times of Aristotle, Augustine, Bruno, Descartes, Foucault, Fichte, Hegel, Husserl, Kant, Kierkegaard, Leibniz, Marx, Nietzsche, Pascal, Plato, Sartre, Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Wittgenstein. He provocatively juxtaposes Plato against shamanism and Marx against Gnosticism, revealing both the vital external influences shaping these intellectuals’ thought and the excitement and wonder generated by the application of their thinking in the real world. The philosophical “temperament” as conceived by Sloterdijk represents the uniquely creative encounter between the mind and a diverse array of cultures. It marks these philosophers’ singular achievements and the special dynamic at play in philosophy as a whole. Creston Davis’s introduction details Sloterdijk’s own temperament, surveying the celebrated thinker’s intellectual context, rhetorical style, and philosophical persona.

Text and Image via CUP

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Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization

May 13, 2013

Is the Internet a vast arena of unrestricted communication and freely exchanged information or a regulated, highly structured virtual bureaucracy? In Protocol, Alexander Galloway argues that the founding principle of the Net is control, not freedom, and that the controlling power lies in the technical protocols that make network connections (and disconnections) possible. He does this by treating the computer as a textual medium that is based on a technological language, code. Code, he argues, can be subject to the same kind of cultural and literary analysis as any natural language; computer languages have their own syntax, grammar, communities, and cultures. Instead of relying on established theoretical approaches, Galloway finds a new way to write about digital media, drawing on his backgrounds in computer programming and critical theory. “Discipline-hopping is a necessity when it comes to complicated socio-technical topics like protocol,” he writes in the preface.

Galloway begins by examining the types of protocols that exist, including TCP/IP, DNS, and HTML. He then looks at examples of resistance and subversion—hackers, viruses, cyberfeminism, Internet art—which he views as emblematic of the larger transformations now taking place within digital culture. Written for a nontechnical audience, Protocol serves as a necessary counterpoint to the wildly utopian visions of the Net that were so widespread in earlier days.

Text and Image via MIT PRESS

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The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous And Other Writings, 1986–2003

May 13, 2013

The HIV epidemic animates this collection of essays by a noted artist, writer, and activist. “So total was the burden of illness—mine and others’—that the only viable response, other than to cease making art entirely, was to adjust to the gravity of the predicament by using the crisis as a lens,” writes Gregg Bordowitz, a film- and video-maker whose best-known works, Fast Trip Long Drop (1993) and Habit (2001), address AIDS globally and personally. In The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous—the title essay is inspired by Charles Ludlam, founder of the Ridiculous Theater Company—Bordowitz follows in the tradition of artist-writers Robert Smithson and Yvonne Rainer by making writing an integral part of an artistic practice.

Bordowitz has left his earliest writings for the most part unchanged—to preserve, he says, “both the youthful exuberance and the palpable sense of fear” created by the early days of the AIDS crisis. After these early essays, the writing becomes more experimental, sometimes mixing fiction and fact; included here is a selection of Bordowitz’s columns from the journal Documents, “New York Was Yesterday.” Finally, in his newest essays he reformulates early themes, and, in “My Postmodernism” (written for Artforum’s fortieth anniversary issue) and “More Operative Assumptions” (written especially for this book), he reexamines the underlying ideas of his practice and sums up his theoretical concerns.

In his mature work, Bordowitz seeks to join the subjective—the experience of having a disease—and the objective—the fact of the disease as a global problem. He believes that this conjunction is necessary for understanding and fighting the crisis. “If it can be written,” he says, “then it can be realized.”

Text and Image via MIT PRESS

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Film As Ethnography

May 12, 2013

This work examines the reasons why anthropologists have not used the camera as a research instrument or film as a means of communicating ethnographic knowledge. It suggests that images and words in this discipline operate on different logical levels; that they are hierarchically related; that whereas writings may encompass the images produced by film, the inverse of this cannot be true. The author argues for this position further by suggesting that the visual is to the written mode as “thin description” (giving a record of the form of behaviour) is to “thick description” (giving an account of meaning). Film As Ethnography: Edited by
Peter Ian Crawford and David Turton. Text and Image via Amazon

Also: Using Film in Ethnographic Research

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The Work of Grief

May 4, 2013

“ How do you turn catastrophe into art?” This bold question, posed by Julian Barnes in a fabulist exegesis of Géricault’s great painting “The Raft of the Medusa”, in A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989), might be said to be answered by his new book, Levels of Life, a memoir of his wife of thirty years, Pat Kavanagh, who died of a brain tumour in 2008. With few of the playful stratagems and indirections of style typical of his fiction, but with something of the baffled elegiac tone of his Booker Prize-winning short novel The Sense of an Ending (2011), Levels of Life conveys an air of stunned candour: “I was thirty-two when we met, sixty-two when she died. The heart of my life; the life of my heart”. The end came swiftly and terribly: “Thirty-seven days from diagnosis to death”. The resulting memoir, a precisely composed, often deeply moving hybrid of non-fiction, “fabulation”, and straightforward reminiscence and contemplation, is a gifted writer’s response to the incomprehensible in a secular culture in which “we are bad at dealing with death, that banal, unique thing; we can no longer make it part of a wider pattern”.

Levels of Life is a not quite adequate title for this highly personal and at times richly detailed book, implying an air of lofty contemplation from which the vividness of actual life has departed. Barnes quotes E. M. Forster: “One death may explain itself, but it throws no light upon another” – yet Levels of Life suggests that a single death, if examined from a singular perspective, may throw a good deal of light on the universal experiences of loss, grief, mourning, and what Barnes calls “the question of loneliness”. “I already know that only the old words would do: death, grief, sorrow, sadness, heartbreak. Nothing modernly evasive or medicalising. Grief is a human, not a medical, condition.” The epiphany – or rather one of the epiphanies, for Levels of Life contains many striking, insightful aphorisms – towards which the memoir moves is the remark of a bereaved friend: “Nature is so exact, it hurts exactly as much as it is worth, so in a way one relishes the pain . . . . If it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t matter”. In the more intimate passages here, Barnes would seem to be making the tacit point that the creation of art is inadequate to compensate for such loss.

Excerpt from an article written by Joyce Carol Oates. Continue HERE

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Another turn after Actor-Network Theory: An interview with Bruno Latour

May 3, 2013

Bruno Latour’s forthcoming book, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. We discuss his intellectual trajectory leading up to actor–network theory and the pluralistic philosophy underlying his new, ‘positive’ anthropology of modernity.

Bruno Latour’s work on actor–network theory (ANT) put him at the forefront of a wave of ethnographic research on scientists ‘in action’ in their laboratories and in the wider world. Starting with 1979’s Laboratory Life, his many books, written independently and in collaboration, have traced the chains of reference that connect instrumental inscriptions in labs to factual statements in journals and, eventually, to the laws of nature found in textbooks. Along the way, he has shown, facts take on increasing ontological weight, growing increasingly ‘universal’ through extensions of the scale and reach of networks and alliances between humans and nonhumans. His work has also contributed to rethinkings of modernity, leading scholars to study how scientists, engineers, and their heterogeneous allies have redefined and transformed both nature and society. Compelling, controversial, and constantly on the move, Latour’s arguments and collective projects have helped orient many research perspectives in Science and Technology Studies (STS) over the past three decades, creating bridges between science studies and anthropology, history, literary studies, art history, and environmental studies; philosophers have also increasingly engaged with his ideas (e.g. Bennett, 2010; Harman, 2009; Rouse, 1987; as well as Latour, 2010).

Read it HERE