Beta-Real Symposium

Beta-Real Symposium


Welcome, everybody. It’s Friday afternoon.
We’re in for a fantastic treat today, I think we have we’re going to originally we’re going
to 5, now we’re going to 6. You’re supposed to be happy about that.
[ Laughter ] 6 is better are than 5. We have more time
with all these great people. We’ll have to be careful. I should first because
I introduce other people no one introduces me and I always forget to introduce myself.
For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Michael Speaks, dean of the School of Architecture
here. We do have an incredible afternoon, and I’m glad you all came. I’m very lucky
I’m here, I’m literally barely here, I got here just in time, I wouldn’t have missed
this though. I want to to make a few opening comments and
Linda is going to take over after that and talk about the afternoon and how it’s structured
and she will get right into it. I’m going to just say that often, but it’s always true,
I do write beautifully so I’d rather just read something that I’ve written than to say
it yup. So in N spring 2015 School of Architecture announced the creation of a Harry Begosian
endowed fellowship program. It’s meant to give faculty members early in their career
the opportunity to spend a year developing a body of design research, based on an area
of interest where teach while teaching at the school of architecture, the gift the largest
in the school’s history, 1964 graduate of the School of Education, to honor other brother,
Harry, who was a 1954 graduate of the School of Architecture.
You don’t know is that we have a house full of Brogosians today, because all three of
the fellows are here today. So Maia alum, was an inaugural fellow, did a program like
this, almost the same week, almost the same day last year and it was a had a terrific
year and we were so excited and thrilled to have her as the first fellow. She set a very
high bar for us. Our current so Maia was the 2016 2017 fellow.
Our 2017 2018 fellow is Linda Zhang, and the symposium is but one of the many contributions
she’d made to the School of Architecture this year. On May 3rd we will open an exhibition
of the work she and her students have produced during this entire year.
I’m also very pleased to say, and I don’t think many of you know this unless you follow
me on social media, which is not likely, and but I’m very pleased to say that the most
recently selected Bergosian fellow, the 2018 2019, he’s here today. Do you guys know that?
Everybody already knows it, so… Where is he? I don’t have my glasses, I can’t see him.
James. James, he’s right here. James, would you stand up so we know who you are?
[ Applause ] James is the he will be the fellow for next
year. You will learn we will have a press release and you’ll more about it. He’s also
just recently the winner of the Vilchek prize, raises awareness of immigrant contributions
in America and fosters the contributions of the arts and sciences. More with that. James
will be with us next year. Finally for our current fellow, Linda Zhang, just a brief
bio, I don’t need to read this, but I’m going to. Linda did a [indiscernible] at the McGill
University, and MARC at the GSD in Harvard, she’s worked at school places including the
school Elliason, in Berlin, Christian Karots, WOJR Boston and architecture studio in Beijing.
Her work has been in Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan. A dean’s merit scholarship at Harvards
GSD. The AIA Henry Adams certificate and the James item Pellton Kelly price, received a
BS with first class honors from Mcgill, and on and on and on and on and on, I’m not going
to read anymore of that. You all know she’s great. She’s fantastic.
So without saying much more, I just want to welcome all the guests, Linda will do all
of the work from here on in. I’m very happy that I can just sit now and enjoy the rest
of the day. Welcome all of you though very happy you’re here at the school.
And welcome our resident fellow and thologian, so anyway, welcome, everybody, we will start
now. Give all these people a very warm Syracuse welcome.
[ Applause ]>>So thank you for the lovely introduction
and thank you all for being here today. I’m really excited to share this amazing lineup
with you. I am so thrilled to finally get them all in a room. We’ve been corresponding
via email and shared Dropbox and readings and articles for about six months now. So
it’s really nice to get everyone together and I’m really excited to share that conversation
with all of you. I just want to begin with a couple words of thanks. Those of you in
the back feel free to come in and sit down. There’s space.
Don’t be shy. I want to begin by saying thank you to Dean
Speaks and associate dean, both for the support and also incredible opportunity to not only
be here on this fellowship but to be able to organize such a symposium and to bring
this diverse group of people and voices into part of not just here today but also to be
part of the school and the fellowship research. I would also like to point out that the symposium
is part of the fellowship, established through generous donation for her late brother Harry,
so I would love to thank Paula, who is one of the most amazing human beings I’ve had
the pleasure of meeting. She just brings a smile to your face.
And I also want to thank our incredible panelists for their energy, dedication, and time. As
I’m sure I’ve taken up way too much of their time over the last several months. I’m very
glad you guys could all be here and that no one’s flights got canceled for the nor’easter
we just had. And I would also like to thank the amazing group of staff here with without
whom the symposium would not have come together. And special thank you to Maia, who was 2016
2017 fellow for not only leaving me very big shoes to fill but also being an amazing source
of support and guidance throughout my whole time here. And I would also like to thank
the amazing community at Syracuse University, which it includes both architecture school,
the students and staff here, but the this fellowship has also been collaborative across
different schools in the University. So I would really like to give and extend a really
big thanks and gratitude towards the ceramic department and especially [indiscernible]
who has been who is an associate professor of ceramics who has been I don’t know if he’s
here right now, but who has been an amazing support and the reason we’re able to to do
all of this material research this semester. And I would also really like to thank all
of the faculty and staff over in the building for putting up with us in that space as we
occupy a lot of it, especially right now. And of course we’ve also been working with
the department of religion, one with Biko Mandela Gray who is one of the speakers here
today. And I would really like to thank the amazing students that I’ve had over the course
of two semesters who have not only continually surprise me with their work but are outstanding
people and also very talented designers and future arc architecture techs, part of the
series of events that would happen over the course of 2017, three courses, several workshops
taught by symposium speakers, the symposium gallery talk by Hayes and an exhibition. And
the focus of the broader fellowship research explores making as a method for critical thinking.
And specifically the process of casting and mold making.
So the con straits of iterative casting and the material behavior of ceramics push back
on conventional notions of preservation and construction. Offering new ways of reading
sites of memory as well new modes ever intervening with history in the built environment produced
over two semesters and two seminars the body of work employees the inherent properties
of iterative casting process as a mode of understanding. The contested space of the
road commemorative infrastructures and practice of ritual. These three case study sites each
more intangible and complex than the last, caught between conflicting ideologies become
the testing grounds to explore how memory and identity politics can shake architecture
in place and how this can be critically thought through material and process, the slip casting
process forces us to confront dynamic, ambivalent and often contested ways which had things
are intertwined across time through negation, repetition, and transference.
From original objects to cast object two molds are necessary, a negative plaster mold is
used to cast the ceramic positive, and a double negative mold is used to cast the plaster
mold. In our explorations in original object is always used as the double negative, which
is almost but not quite a positive. As such the original object is either destroyed during
the casting process or used as a virtual 3D scan translated into foam. The process described
here makes palpable and therefore thinkable several entry points for grappling with questions
of remembrance and forgetting in the built environment.
The relay produced between the mold positive, negative, and the double negative can be thought
of like the infinite relay produced between two mirrors. Although not a physical entity,
the notion of intent is rendered visual and is just as real at the physical entity. This
relay speaks towards the ways in which the intangible can be produced through the material
world around the cast itself the workforce focuses on the potential of the cast to the
produce relays of intangibles offering a way to explore the power of trace to invoke what
is absence be absent as well as the way everything leaves a mark. In the wake of making something
is always, always left behind. This relay is also produced through the iterative
nature of slip casting as an uncanny doppelganger, due to their sameness, every subtle difference
is paradoxically amplified and made legible. In other words, although the pieces aim to
mirror one another, the handmade and imperfect nature of the slip casting process as well
as the deterioration of the plaster mold over time ultimately results in perpetual but subtle
difference. Instead of attempting it it subdue the material, the design research example
ago research rates the process of decay, of difference and sameness. By performing actions
of erosion on the mold after each iteration. The resulting cast become as a snapshot of
the changing life of the mold over time. Each cast piece is no longer understood as a duplicate
copy of an original, instead each piece describes the same object, single mold from which they
were cast, resulting in a problematic superposition. While each cost occupies different points
in time and one point in space, physicality of each cast is closes the inverse, they exist
at one point in time in multiple points in space. Just as the uncon canny doppelganger,
there’s an space between self and other, but it only seems this way. In fact, their coincidence
only amplifies the impossible of superposition. There are too many multiples and each multiple,
each itis ter ration articulates this difference. The paradox names the difficult with remembering
the past. Despite the considerable desire to bring the past into the present. Slip casting
challenges the desire, distrusting the sensibilities about location and material as sites or mediums
amenable to authentic indicating or at least authentically recalling the past.
So in parallel the Beta Real symposium brings together a diverse group of thinkers and makers
to explore the growing shift across disciplines such ambivalent and unsurmountable states
have come to characterize our shared reality. From sites of contested memory and amnesia,
so economic and identity politics in a global age of displacement, to technological revolution,
the Beta Real finding new equilibriums emits those moments of discord, rather than settling
for yet another framework. Beta Real symposium participants explore special,
temporal and technological sites at the limits of understanding, speech, and architectural
imagination, questioning how architecture might move forward at the edge of such a frontier.
Distinctly, our frontier does not sit on the edge to an inaccessible mysterious beyond,
it does not sit on edge at all. There are no boundaries to begin with, the frontier
is situated in the heart of it all. And yet this heart is also not the center.
No, the frontier not found in a dark nucleus, it’s everywhere, on the edge and in the center
at the same time at every [indiscernible] frameworks and categories of understanding.
It is precisely so because the effects of the Beta Real are in fact produced by the
same structures and categories, it a haunting from within. It’s a feeling something not
quite right here, thing don’t quite fit together. That something or somehow the exterior keeps
creeping into the interior of self. At the same time this experience is hinged
on the very separation of an interior and exterior to begin with. Within the metaphysicians
of presence there’s no way to reconcile such a contradiction.
It would view exterior and interior as stable, self sufficient, uniary, categories, exterior
cannot also be the interior. So within that kind logic there’s no way to move forward
beyond that impasse, so in contrast, the Beta Real posits distinctions as fictional constructs,
in doing so it hopes to reveal exterior and interior as two sides of same coin, they may
be different and the same, and more importantly the tension between them may be understood
as a productive space. Understanding binary oppositions as related
and as experienced affect rather than things in themselves, the Beta Real names the not
just completeness or the impossibility to complete project of the real. A beta version
still in development, always not yet ready for release.
So the symposium is structured in three sections, so we have the first panel which is called
destabilizing sites in between, and the second titled inventing nonfictions, disrupting sensibilities
and then we will end with a aroundtable discussion and we will have a five minute break in between
each section. So I’ll begin by introducing the theme of
the first panel. As well as the speakers. The first panel questions the stable boundaries
of reality, following close readings of Janus faced experiences between the stable boundaries,
panel offers new modes of understanding and new messagaries for sites which have until
today remains difficult to fully grasp, the contested space of the road, American plantation
system and digital cloud. In an me that increasingly global world, thinking through the in between
offers a needed alternative mode of architectural thinking and design, expanding our perception
and experience of reality. Dwelling in the middle passage, the space
between A and B, between multipoints the first panel is framed around a rethinking of the
formulation of subjects and objects and the relationships in between them. Looking at
the site of the road Biko Mandela Gray draws upon the ambivalent coinciding of the states
of terror and joy, the clearing and I don’t know derivative, to disrupt the phenomenology
experience of the road announcing its presence. Natalie Koerner studies the spatial disorientation
and impossible of touch, the [indiscernible] of the cloud, all of which fall beyond the
categories of comprehension, somewhere simultaneously outside and in between the structures of thought
and imagination. Bryan Norwood looks at the middle passage between enrootedness and exile,
to modify the narrative of architectural modernity through the American plantation system. The
first panel rethinking of the formulation of subjects
and objects and their data centers, rather than applied philosophy, which uses philosophy
as a lens to conveniently frame architecture, the three presentations explore how philosophical
thinking can be used to challenge assumptions and structures of architectural thought and
design as well as making. Each presentation opens up possibilities within
architectural thought for critiquing systems of power, production, and infrastructure.
By calling to question subject object relations, namely the instable constructions of identity,
history, and temporality. So just quickly before I introduce the panelists
I want to introduce our moderator, Irene Chin. I also want to give her a huge thank you,
we have spent many hours together discussing reading, writing, and putting together the
two panels and roundtable discussion here today. And she is incredibly humble and will
never admit to her how instrumental she has been to this symposium, but without her thoughtful,
attentive and critical framing and professional questioning none of this today would be possible.
So thank you, Irene. [ Applause ]
So Irene Chin is an editor and curator based in Quebec, she was trained as an architecture
at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and went on to study history and philosophy of design
at Harvard. Through the practice of [indiscernible] exhibition and publication making she explores
interest of archive theory, media archeology and new zoology. Her interests lie in the
intersection of the architectural and institutional criticism, questioning formal and a strategic
structures of culture protection. She has contributed to exhibitions at the art institute
of Chicago and Harvard University and has been experience with grants and public programming
at major institutions, including the storefront for [indiscernible] architecture, the architecture
foundation, and the ground foundation and most recently she is the curator coordinator
at the Canadian center of architecture and worked on exhibitions including archeology
of the digitallal, 17 volcanos, besides history mirrors and gray stones tools for understanding
the city. And so arriving at our first panel, I’d like
to introduce Biko Mandela Gray, who is sitting in front of me here. Biko is a professor of
American religion here at Syracuse University. His interests are primary organized around
the connection between religion, embodiment and subjectivity. And how these different
dimensions of our lives are both augmented and inflected through categories like race,
gender, and sexuality. Returning to sites of black life and death, Biko highlights how
the black lives matter movement operates as a site of religious subject formation, drawing
upon phenomenology thinkers such as Heidegger, and Ahmed and placing them in the conversation
with Tony Morrison, he examines the movement as a clearing, religious base I don’t know
the confines of the cognitive and subject of mastery, where in black flesh is cared
for despite the ever present possibility and various form of death, the clearing [indiscernible]
traditional approaches to subjectivity highlighting that subjectivity and does extend far beyond
constitution or cognition. Instead, subjectivity should be understood as relation. As a constantly
changing constellation of varied modes of relational engagement.
Our second panelist is Natalie Koerner. She is a PhD candidate at the royal Danish academy
of fine arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen. Her research focuses on spatiality, temporality,
and the materiality of digital archives. She previously studied architecture at Cambridge
University and in Zurich and works for architecture firms in Lyndon, Zurich, all studio.
And she is recently joining us from the new school and Parsons where she has been a visiting
scholar since January. And last but not least, Bryan Norwood is a
PhD candidate in the history and theory of architecture at Harvard University, as well
as a visiting assistant professor at Mississippi State University School of Architecture. He
was the 2016 2017 Charles Peterson senior fellow. He received a BA in philosophy and
BR from Mississippi State University and MA in philosophy from Boston University and MA
in architecture from Harvard. Also taught at Harvard, northeastern and BU. His work
appeared in many journals and he has most recently edited the next issue of log, which
is it still on an airplane or is it arriving soon? It will be in New York on Monday. So
we’re all really looking forward to that issue, which is also on phenomenology and disorienting
phenomenology with phenomenology. So to start off each panel I’m going to introduce
the work of some workshops we did. From both panels, Ani Liu and Biko Mandela Gray have
done workshops with my classes, with my students, and so Biko Mandela Gray started out by doing
a four week workshop in my PE class, but he had such a good time he’s not leaving, and
is continuing. So it’s a never ending semester long workshop now.
So I’ll begin by introducing some of that work. Which will lead into their own work.
So the workshop was entitled phenomenology of the road.
Through the archeology and excavation of scholarship the iterative tiles explore the phenomenology
of the road as I space for the residue of violence remains. We look specifically at
the site of Canfield Drive in Ferguson, still bears the residue, blood, and DNA of the violence
and violation that ended Mike Brown’s life, the struggle of remembrance and erase your
which plays ought over the built environment names the impasse of the road.
Workshop uses the performative and time based dimensions of slip casting processes to reveal
the aspecttive dimensions of the of road. So what you see in the photos here is the
site where his body bled out for several hours. And interestingly, you’ll see the photos of
some of the memorials that were made and they all miraculously went missing or destroyed
somehow, so the stuffed animals and dolls you see were mysteriously burned away and
they also it also burnt doubt a tree. So then tree was planted with a plaque as commemorative
gesture and that was stolen within 24 hours, so you see the contested nature that you have
to confront the fact that every time you try to remember one narrative it is violently
forgetting another and this is the space in which that is played out.
And when you see that asphalt being poured, the family wanted to keep the piece of the
road in which his blood saturated so they dug out that block and they wanted to use
it as headstone, but it was too crumbling, but as a result they had to pave a new patch
of asphalt in that space which sort of reveals itself to in the road as you pass. So Biko
will talk a bit more about that. And so starting with the topic graphical surface
of the site thin layers of color slip are cast into a plaster mold. Exploring how actions
perform during casting can be revealed through excavations, these actions relate to the contested
nature and the violence of interpretation surrounding the ways in which Mike brown’s
life ended. By excavating and smoothing out the initial
surface, the process of layering the colored slip will be revealed leaving traces of the
initial texture behind. As color rather than form.
So in other words, the topographic casts were excavated to reveal colors which lay even
in the wake of destruction. So without further ado, I will present Biko Mandela Gray.
[ Applause ]>>There’s a lot going on here, I’m going
to do that. Good afternoon, everybody, first I want to say thanks to everybody for being
here. Second to my partner in crime, Linda, she mentioned one time that when we first
got here last semester, I said you read him too, let’s see what might shake out, we ended
up somehow doing a workshop together or she just invited me to do something. So that was
incredible. So I do want to give it up to Linda again, thank you for your work.
[ Applause ] I do have written remarks, so I will use them
but I will as you them sparingly. The title of this piece is called road trip. So he I’ll
start by reading things and then eventually I’ll move away from the text and come back
and forth, so don’t be confused by my movement, it’s part of the process.
Four and a half hours. Pierced and broken body lay there for four and a half hours.
His blood spilling into asphalt and leaving permanent stains. We no longer see them there
because the family took his residue removed his remains from the possibility of travel.
Days later we heard cries of burn this bitch down by Mike Brown’s father. And they did.
CVS went up in flames and property was damaged. And then came the tanks. Armed with tear gas,
armed with tear gas militarily addressed police officers, the city and then the country split
in at least two. And somehow, somehow we’ve never overcome this splitting.
These four and a half hours in the moments leading up to these four and a half hours
remain contested sites, structured by what we might call the hermeneutical impasse of
the American sociocultural memory. Was Mike Brown a vile criminal or was he a college
hopeful who died too soon? As a collective reality, as a collective country, we don’t
know where to land. As I will suggest today we never will because we do not know what
to do with asphalt, with concrete. With the road.
So what I’ll do is in light of this today I want us to take a road tripe, brief road
trip go to a couple of roads. So to clarify where I’m headed, I will lay the roadmap all
puns intended, did you all get the joke? All puns intended ahead of us. First, the road
operates as an expression and denial of notions of equipment, simultaneously functions and
fails to function and in this regard is opens up new possibilities of reading Heidegger.
But I want in this regard the road is ambiguous, so second I want to suggest the very ambiguity
of the road in its obscurity, it relies upon affect, emotion are in order to bring the
roads in existence into sharper relief. So because the road itself is obscure, and I’ll
talk about what that obscuring means, we rely on we rely upon our affective impulses, our
emotions to help us further understand the road.
In lastly, after doing that, I will eventually show I want to leave us where we started.
If the road needs affect, needs emotion to disclose the nature of its existence, then
the mere fact that the road a conduit for both rage and apathy for both disgust and
safety, then this reinforces that in this country the real, whatever this term may come
to mean, must wrestle with uncertainty. And must refuse to clearly categorize or arrive
as a moment of clarity. The road is after all a space for travel.
Produced by some solid material, usually asphalt, the road is athat silent medium through which
we are able to move from one place to another. When it’s working well, when there are no
potholes, you you all know what potholes do to your road or to your driving, the road
fades into background, inan mered by destination or surrounding or riding companions or combination
of all of these things, the road recedes into the horizontal operating as the very medium
of and for contemplation, conversation or navigation. We know the road is really doing
its job when we forget that it’s there. Or at least this is what Martin Heidegger
might suggest. I want you all to do me a favor, what are you all sitting in right now? It’s
a very basic question. Please don’t make me force somebody to answer this question. There
we go. We are sitting in chairs. And until I mention that we were sitting in chairs,
how many of you all remembered that you were sitting in chairs? Raise your hand if you
were like map I’ve been sitting in a chair this whole time, think about that, right?
You might have thought about it if your backside started to hurt a little bit, if the cushion
gave out, but most of the time these things recede into the background and Martin Heidegger
says that things do their best job when we forget they are things, the chair is operating
properly [indiscernible] sitting in it. So I wanted to think through this, because many
many ways the road operates same way, if you get on the road and there are no potholes
all of a sudden the car does fine, you start thinking with your buddy, turn on some Lamar,
you understand the DNA, you listen to the black panther sound track, everything goes
well, right? When you’re listening and driving on the road it recedes, you forget about it.
Except for many people we never forget about it. For many people from certain communities
the road is not a space that recedes from view whether it has potholes or not, for many
of us the road is always a place of fraught anxiety. Of brokenness. And I’m not talking
about potholes or uneven pavement, what happens is that the road can and does refuse to recede
from view. So while we don’t typically think of it in this way, there are moments where
in the road refuses to disappear. And in this regard I’m not talking about potholes or uneven
pavement, I’m talking about moment when’s the names of streets are invoked. Not for
navigation, but because of the because the name of the street announces the halt of navigation,
the cease, the ceasing of movement. Indeed there are moments when roads announce themselves
because they occasion the ceasing of life itself.
So I name a couple of streets, Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri, you all know that one,
you know University Drive in prayer view Texas, Presbury Street in Baltimore, north foster
drive, each one of the names of these streets I know them because they announce a place
where movement stopped. Where bodies laid in the ground for four and
a half hours. The names of these roads may not ripping a bell, but the following names
of those who were killed on them do. Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling,
McDonald, shot 16 times in the middle of the night.
And for each of these names it was the asphalt, the road that stood as a conduit for both
travel and violence, they were moving on the road until it stopped. Sometimes the road
conjures up images instead of images of road trips, sometimes conjures up images of pierced
bodies who blood spills on the asphalt. Sometimes the road reminds us of slammed, pinned down
and choked bodies whose description becomes imminent. Sometimes one can look at the road
and hear the bones of someone’s spine snapping, even if we’ve never seen the person.
For some of us the road is not a neutral medium of and for travel, instead of road announces
itself as a conduit fraught with anxiety to the point where parents become summal teachers
in drivers education courses and there are many of us that might be familiar with something
I’m about to say, my mama used to tell me when I got my driver’s license, hey baby,
don’t speed and I be speeding anyway. She goes when you get stopped by the cops, got
a couple rules for you. Keep your hands on the wheel, put your eyes down, always say
yes, sir and no, sir. Because the road is a space fraught with on anxiety. And there
are other communities that do find the road to be a space of safety. Where the road does
recede into the background. Where peace officers are not understood as agents of death. And
in this particular reality both of these particular perspectives operate simultaneously on the
asphalt. Hence these weird images that you all are looking at that are earily beautiful
because they announce contradictions. They announce that some folks find the road to
be safe while others find the road to be anxiety inducing. So what do we do the with the road?
I’m going to go ahead and move down, because I don’t have too much time. What eventually
happens here is that the road announces the possibility of feeling either at home are
or not at home. And it does both of these things at the same
time. Such when I drive down the road and I see the red white and blues I freak the
hell out. Right? But others may see the red, white, and blues and say I am safe. And we
both might be riding in the car together and I’m over here sitting next to my buddy who
is like yes, and I’m like no, right? And what do you do with this ambiguity, with this object
security of the road? It fails to follow logic, fails to follow what Aristotle calls the rule
of noncontradiction, somebody must be in the same mace at all times. So when thinking about
the road you you have to think about how do we feel, what emotion as rise when we think
about the road. Sarah Ahmed says emotions form surfaces. Says
emotions form surfaces. And because they form surfaces, certain emotions will form the road
as a space of safety or space of danger. And so for some of us relaxation is cool, but
for others of us, I don’t know how to do this fancy thing, for others of us, over here,
the road insights rage. ¶
>>You all don’t need to see the video, it says black rage all over again. The title
of the song is black rage, gave me the first part of it, it’s put to my favorite things,
the lyric ares essentially say that black rage is founded on violence and violations.
We remember these things, but if the road operates a space of rage or possible rage,
AKA, burn this bitch down, as Mike Brown’s father said, it also operates as a space,
a felt space where protection resides such that the blue lives matter movement in response
to the black lives matter movement is nothing more and nothing less than an also an oppositional
emotional response. Emotional response about who gets to claim
the road about who gets to claim this public space, it is a demand of ownership over public
spaces. Such that the road confirms and denies the legitimacy of police in test, joy and
suffering, violence and safety simultaneously. Marked by opposition called into being there
an unsurmountable struggle, the road reminds us we will never come to a national consensus
about the ethics of these kinds of deaths. Mike Brown will never be resolved as either
a criminal or a college hopeful. Sandra bland will never be understood as simply
a drug addict or an activist. If space offers us an arena from which to contemplate the
real, then the ambiguity of the road offers a considerable source from within which to
further understand the contours of our lives lived together. So I’ll end with this, such
that the real, the reality of something, if we are to wrestle with this is far more complex
in the simplicity of the term might convey, think about the [indiscernible] real in relation
to the road, the best we could say, if we could say anything at all, is that what the
real is like the road is always and already contested terrain. Given up to one always
and already open to and for the violence of interpretation, the violence that is interpretation.
And yet some of us might argue we have little other than interpretation through which to
understand the world. Even though the road is a fraught sociocultural
and sociopolitical terrain, we still have to use it. I still got it drive. The real
then already places us at an impasse. Obscure standoff, but I guess that’s just how things
are. Maybe it’s time to take another road trip.
Thank you. [ Applause ]
[Silence]>>Can you hear me? Is this loud enough? Yeah,
okay. So my research in architecture theory results
around the digital cloud, and basically I am using the meteorological and geological
as two modes to describe digital archives. And I’m interested in what kinds of spaces
we associate with the digital cloud. So what is behind this cloud metaphor and how can
we as architects use and enrich it. So according to Google image search this is
what the digital cloud looks like, it’s basically meteorological cloud photoshopped into a rendered
corridor of server racks. And there’s like many variations of this.
It can also be vice versa with data racks photoshopped into clouds. The determine “cloud”
even in the context of digital archiving practices and data analysis suggests meteorology as
a method logical and spatial temporal point of reference. I explore and described the
spaciality and temporality and materiality of the digit cloud by creating an reality
with the meteorological cloud as it is more real than the digital cloud which is just
a metaphor for data centers which look like this. So if we look at the clouds, 67% of
the planet are continuously covered by cloud. So we actually living on a cloudy marble rather
than the blue marble. The meteorological cloud can be understood
materially as an archive, it consists of water and the transports the particles on to which
water condensates, aerosols, these transmit physical information, of deserts, mushrooms
of forests, nuclear events, explosions, volcanic activity and CO2 pollutants.
This physical information travels, for example, dust from the Sahara often have a verses the
atmosphere above the Atlantic to reach the Caribbean. Aerosols fine solids and droplets
vary in size from a few nanometers less than the width of the smallest viruses to about
the diameter of human hair. 90% are [indiscernible] and 10% are anthropogenic. Information clouds
carry constitutes the materiality and influences spatial formation. A single cloud might assemble
volcanic ash, sea salt, and this makes determine how much heat the cloud retains or reflects
as rain. So it changes, just as chemical and physical composition also changes. They are
difficult to classify, and prior to 1802 the meteorological clouds were similarly enigmatic
and mysterious as the digital cloud, which basically is invisible non ion using microwaves
that occupy the imagination of its users. This changed when pharmacists and amateur
meteorologists determined a nomenclature for clouds. And the system was if classified these
entities that and objects in themselves are fixed in themselves but that at the quote
visible signs of vast atmospheric processes. His three basic categories of clouds, cirrus,
stratus, and nimbus, reflect atmospheric processes instead of their resulting shapes and could
be combined to describe further cloud variations. So while Howard could study clouds from only
from below, we have now access to clues from above with the help of satellites and these
satellites show how responsive clouds are. So cloud patterns reflect a topography and
temperature of the planet surface, its reflective, ships and airplanes, winds and atmospheric
pressure. So one good example of the responsiveness
of clouds are these wave cloud formations which visualize the collision of air masses
of different temperatures and moisture content. So when a comparison tiny island pushes up
air masses that meet higher air masses you get these patterns.
And there’s lots of difference. So basically looking at cloud patterns, points it two archival
aspects of the meteorological cloud. On the one hand, there is the information embedded
in the particles, the gins and travels and interactions, and there’s the changing context
of the cloud. A cloud visualizes its surroundings and by extension the world.
This notion resonates with the origins of computing as closely linked to the air as
archive. Charles Babbage, he was an important figure in setting this trend, he declared,
quote, the air itself is one vast library of all the words that have been spoken and
all the winds and currents that have acted upon it. His view of the world as archive
was informed by hi computational logic that also led to his inventions you can see in
the back, these were the earliest computers. According to Babbage, when we speak we said
airwaves into motion affecting every atom of the atmosphere and changing their trajectories
forever in quote less than 20 hours. So Babbage believed that given enough computational
power knowledge of the air’s behavior and causes acting on it, the atmosphere’s past
and future trajectories can be deduced. The air in Babbage’s view is an archive, visualization
of two forces that act on it just as the clouds are response visualizations of extensive information
and processes. However, unlike in Babbage’s idealized world
clouds for us today, the meteorological clouds are still unmappable and impossible to compute
or model, despite continuous presence, they remain fundamentally elusive because clouds
visualize an amount of data, not all of which is fully understood by science. This data
is in constant flux of updates as it interacts with other elements. As a planetary phenomenon
embedded in meteorological time that consists of phasing recurrence and variation, flux
and patterning clouds exemplified the meteorological mode.
So I just want to show you a video going back to this is a shadow stock image of data center
visualization. So whereas the appearance of the meteorological cloud depends on the relations
of otherwise invisible atmospheric parameters when temperatures, humidity and aerosols,
the digital clouds shows a data centers glass finers and microwaves that are generic and
interchangeable that they might just as well not exist.
The digital cloud also blurs the terrain of big data, which it contains. Big data is like
the meteorological cloud too vast for models, it refers exponentially growing digital data
volumes harvested from digital earth sources and sensors, modeling, phones, internet, et
cetera. Without going into too much detail, at the
core of the digital cloud lies its ability to absorb and consume seemingly endless information.
So I have to find my sorry, I just have to go back.
I can’t find it. So how can we grapple with this elusive metaphorral
quality of the cloud and the data centers. Now I talk about my own like artistic research.
So one approach to make this more real is through its materiality. And basically I’m
interested in using these kind of renderings a as a starting point to explore how you can
make them more tangible and one approach is through materials. So the data centers and
the service all the digital technologies are actually made of minerals and metals and rare
earth. So what the stuff that the ground is made of. So what we build our architecture
on. And what does that look like? We never really
are in contact with the kind of raw material before it’s proposed and there’s a fascinating
world kind of in the actual material. So this is lithium pool. This is what rare earth mineral
mines look like. And then there’s kind of abstract visualizations of these metals. And
how can I use this to kind of make a tangible and more architectural context? And one way
of actually using these minerals and kind of buildings has been to stain glass. So traditionally
glass is stained using a variety of minerals. And also this is just for examples of so I
made these small samples of using just float glass and applying the kinds of metals and
mineral powders that we find in our digital technologies and baking them onto the glass
using different kind of sponges and methods applying them to kind of deal with the metallic
materiality of the digital technologies and kind of cloudy aesthetic.
And my so my next step will be to actually apply glass panels to the kind of covered
systems, generics cupboards rack systems we use in data centers which look like this.
They come in different sizes. They adhere to certain standards. And so I kind of go
into a history of these organizing archival cupboards and one of them is original cabinet
so when he was coming up with the classification of all organic life, instead of finding the
sheets with pressed flowers into books as people did at the time, he kept the sheets
in a cupboard to rearrange them kind of spatially, which allowed him to classify plants and animals
in a special way. And also these kind of core memory units of the first large room filling
computers. So basically I want to kind of bring together the materiality and the spatial
organization of cupboards to give these completely abstract renderings realness. So that will
be my next step. And I’ve been looking at other archival spaces
that more tangible than data centers. So the earth can be understood as a geo informatic
construct and one place that shows this is the earth observatory of Columbia University
where they keep sediment cores. So sediment cores are basically drilling samples from
the ocean floor, from the ground, which you use a plastic tube and gravity, basically,
to get these sediment samples out. And these are then archived in basically rooms as big
as this, just filled with shelves. And eight or 5 foot long drilling core samples. And
now they’re mostly dried also, they’re refrigerated so the moisture content stays the same, but
I’m really interested in these spaces that kind of use geology like data centers but
in a more tangible way. Because when you look at this image, these are so you have to imagine
like 5 foot long halves drilling cores and there’s a labels on them, which actually have
some meaning. They denote the ship from which these samples were taken and when and so on.
When we look at what server like hard drive disk are made of, they’re also geo informatic
constructs, just like the planet and just like the drilling cores. So I want to kind
of explore archival material in this more tangible way.
Because how can we render the digital real and spatial and get away from these very abstract
and kind of yeah, renderings. [ Applause ]
>>All right. I’m on. I just gave away everything. Lecture is pointless.
Okay. So I’m Bryan, I also want to say thank you to Linda, this is such a great opportunity.
What I actually want it start with is this diagram from Christian Norberg Schulz, architectural
theorist from the 1970s book existence space in architecture. This is diagram of a subject
oriented in the world. So you have on your left the subject is oriented towards a place
that’s circumscribed in the world. But inside of that place, that circumscribed as a reflection
of the subject themselves. So we might could say like our friend or nemesis, Mr. Heidegger,
if he’s the subject in Norberg Schulz’s kind of this general interpretation of phenomenology
in architecture is what I’m trying it lay out, if he’s the subject, then Heidegger’s
famous hut in the woods is this thing that makes place for him. But the reason that makes
place is because there’s a miniature version of Heidegger kind of envisioned inside of
this. That the way we understand being in the world,
the way we understand it means what it means to exist as a human in world is to be at home.
But I’m interested in a different diagram. This is a diagram from the Caribbean philosopher
Edward Glissant’s book the poetics of relation. It’s a diagram of subjects stolen away from
Africa, bound together in the belly of a slave ship, carried along the middle passage and
spread out across plantations of the Caribbean and the Americas. Alexander Weheliye, questions
phenomenology by thinking what alternate forms human existence take under these conditions.
Particularly these of the racialized middle passage, the plantation, and its continued
effects on the world. Duress emerges here as a feature of that alternate form of subjectivity.
Takes shape in the world that is defined, colonized and oriented by whiteness. I think
there’s two potentially valuable lessons for architectural history here. First, and a very
historical form, we need to understand the built environment’s role in the formation
of racial capitalism. Required us to make colonialallism is racialization explicit themes
of architectural history. But theoretically and more at issue for me here today is the
possibility of formulating and understanding of human existence through phenomenology that
is the French philosopher Dorothee Legrand says, rejects the binary of enrootedness and
exile. So a sizable part of the binary of phenomenology
versus poststructuralism or phenomenology versus deconstruction that kind of tangled
up architectural theory discourse in the ’90s was based on this idea that phenomenology
is about being enrooted, but if you do deconstruction or post structuralism you’re thinking about
exile. I think what’s potentially powerful about Glissant and Weheliye is this kind of
formulation in a way of understanding a particular kind of human existence that is neither enrooted
in a world that is entirely theirs nor exiled many a way they’re entirely not at home. So
the way I will go to this is by taking about the plantation of the Lower Mississippi River
Valley in the 18th and 19th century. So phenomenological account of the body on
the plantation requires paying particular attention to a distinction between the lived
body and the body as experienced. So the lived body, this first category quintessential to
phenomenology describes the body experience intentional and projective, our body as we
engage in the world, as we don’t notice the chair there that supports us.
This is what Ponte call calls the body schema. But there’s the objectified body, object for
others. Brought in the particular relief by experiences of gender and race, this is more
carefully been considered by phenomenologies written from these perspectives. So the feminist
Iris Marion Young described this experience as being a directional marker for others,
Sarah Ahmed describes it as a process of the disoriented person becoming the orient for
whiteness and straightness. Fanon famously described this experience,
body being disjointed and reassembled, fabricated by and for another person’s world. And Yancy
labeled this the phenomenology return, which is in the simply the process of being objectified
but rather the experience of what who is objectified having lived intentionality being informed
by this. So this system of racialized slavery that took place in the plantations of the
old south is a good way to put this on display. So let’s take the quote as an example from
the landscape architecture, Olmstead, describing a journey through the south. Said it’s different
to handle as property, a creature possessing human passions and feelings. However debase
and torpid the condition that creature may be. While earned zero the absolute necessity
of dealing with property as a thing greatly embarrasses the man and any attempt to treat
it as a person. This natural as a result of this complicated state of thing that the system
of slave management is a regular ambiguous and never consistently humane or consistently
economical. So here we have a hint at what might be different about an approach to architectural
history that understands our initial context with modernity in a way what routes not through
the factory but through the plantation. Process is not just techno scientific objectification
of many phenomenologists have explained about, but rather one of the kind of contradictions
of racialized exploitation of understanding certain humans as different and therefore
did he have. The body of enslaved person is lived as one constantly returned to itself
by the view of whiteness of as less human. For the enslaved person then we say perhaps
even more broadly for racialized engendered persons being many a place is doubled by an
objectifying process of knowing one’s place. So the system of the plantation can be kind
of thought about in this cross section. The convention of the volatile environmental space
of the Mississippi River delta into financially productive landscape depending on a variety
of things, levies, drainage ditches, docks and steamboats, planting, harvesting, producing
raw commodities, the native people of the valley understood the environment as one of
variability and their control as tenuous. Water rose and fell, the divisions of wet
and dry shifted. The story of European colonization of this area is one of attempting to the fix
the separation of wet and dry. Take land prone it to instability and make it stable.
The plantation system attempted to produce a productive order that was ultimately embodied
in a view to and from the seed seat of power, the big house. On the plantation the boundary
is one of the keys tools of whiteness in maintaining systematic order. However, as Glissant says,
while the plantation construct as a specific boundary and order, boundaries are also the
point of weakness. When the environment of the Lower Mississippi
River Valley was not made for the enslaved, in most cases it was made by them, and spaces
in which they existed. Existence cut across alternate paths in this
landscape, the axial approach, the famous shots of these plantations that would come
from this side was not for them, that was for other white people.
The slaves approach cut across this kind of back system and ordered itself differently
in relationship to the field, to the yard, to their quarters.
The quarters themselves and the small gardens became spaces of defense and personal identity.
But importantly, it’s a space at the margin of the system of control, between the plantation
and the swamp that structural weakness revealed as kind of spaces we can find alternate forms
of human agency. So how was disorientation resisted? Well,
first you could resist it by running away. The run away directly confronted their bodily
division by trying to suture it back together. The activity of running way was one of trying
to relieve one’s self of being torn in two, of being a lived body and a body objectified.
The linguistic and legal acrobat ticks used by planters to describe runaways in the sense
is pretty revealing. Saying things like this slave absconded with themselves or they were
stealing themselves away. They fled in order to reunite what had been
divided. However this is not the only form of resistance. In the way of resistance that
we conceive is ultimately linked to what the kind of bodies we imagine resisting.
So the scholar Stephanie Camp in this analysis and closer to freedom emphasized in slave
agency by looking at further constraints from which they began.
Permanent escape was much more common for men than women. Further bound by the institutions
of family and domestic care likewise affected white women, slave woman’s body was [indiscernible]
and gender, the camp [indiscernible] particular means of resistance and celebration.
As a body that formed what Glissant described as poetic relations. In particular, she does
this by conceptualizing the body a a trichotomy, rather than a dichotomy, enslaved woman’s
body was a site of domination, a body experience as dominated and importantly and thirdly,
a body claimed and enjoyed as a site of resistance. As she points out, the contested space of
the swamp was particularly activated by resistant activities of women.
They saw temporary truancy in the swamp. Parties and religious gathering which took place in
clearings in the swamp, sometime called hush arbors were prepared in advance. Food and
alcohol was stolen, clothing created, bodies to to be expressive.
The space of the resistant body was in the disorientation of the swamp and its past led
out to the space of the plantation [indiscernible] affects could be gathered.
It was a place in which the planter’s organizational system ran up against its limits.
It was a margin that planters no doubt attempted to control to broach by at imposition of order
through [indiscernible] written passes and tracking dogs, but as one in which they can
[indiscernible] dominate. Alternately, the margin, the space of exile from one system
was also the means of enrooted another set of relations, the third body converted experience
of [indiscernible] into a site of resistance. So how do we write narratives of both the
lived body and the body for others into architecture? So pressing question for how we think about
modernity. Our accounts must not be written or read in a way that fetishizes experience
of transgression, the process of running away, for example, was one of totalizing disorientation,
the experience of being caught by tracking dogs, one of unparalleled horror. Disorientation
is not simply an experience to celebrate anymore than that of orientation, a transgression
is a process of using another’s disorientation to rearm if I have colonizing orientations,
as stetty sizing a relation to disorientation as to little of the whiteness and demands
too much of those disoriented. So our account of architecture if we’re going
to take it seriously for one is going to require us to think about phenomenologies of race.
When Massimo Caccairi called for a phenomenology of metropolitan non dwelling, it was on account
of the European white male, the plantation was thought of a fact of an office building,
[indiscernible] modernism. So while mechanization was taking command, as Giedion described it,
so did the internal slave trade, KKK, Jim Crow, army corp of engineer’s flood control
strategies and the metro chemical that turned the low Mississippi valley into what is called
cancerrally. How do you make a visit to the remains of plantations in a way that does
not reproduce the planter system of visibility in carceral control? Phenomenology is a tool
of historic preservation, would require we conceive of our task as one of making us aware
of what has been hidden. Along river road of the lower Mississippi what gets covered
up and withdrawn in the process of historical change? Sugar boiling kettles turned into
fountains and planters, tour guides dress in period costumes. Houses are decorated for
the holidays. And tales recounted of the families and their possessions that occupied the big
house. Plantation alleys provide spaces for weddings,
photo opportunities that you pay to have access to. But first step is also occurring at the
Whitney plantation in Louisiana [indiscernible] the approach begins at a church built by and
for the enslaved, and architectural manifestation of the hush arbors.
The approach is that of the enslaved rather than the placated visitor or the planter.
So finally, if phenomenology is going to have relevance for architectural theory, in the
way that does not fetishize claims about enrooted primitivity or modern exile it has to think
about bodies and multiples and at least two, but maybe threes. The point is not to equivocate
on the experience of slavery, rather what we need to think about is how we choose the
historical moments from which we begin our accounts of subjectivity. In particular, we
need to think about how we choose our moments of what was called bear life or of life under
extreme duress, this is Weheliye’s argument for black feminist theories of the human and
likewise the reason on account of the middle passage and the plantation could be so important
to architectural thought. Thank you. [ Applause ]
>>Thank you for those wonderful presentations. We’re going to take a five minute break. And
so we’ll be back here at 3:27 for the second panel.
Thank you.>>Can everybody hear me? Can everybody hear?
All right. We’re going to slowly get started again.
Those of you in the back there’s still more room in the front so feel free to come closer
if you wish. So for the second panel is entitled inventing nonfiction, disrupting sensibilities
so if the first panel looked at the space between things, second panel uses the Beta
Real to test the multilayers and superpositioned states between two states that of fiction
and reality. So drawing from literature, art, politics, technology, and science, the panel
look for ways in which as William Stewart aptly framed it, nothing is real that isn’t
fiction. This contradictory structure is the structure
of the in between, the Beta Real, we explored the same Beta Real in between we explored
in the first panel. It is the structure of the doppelganger, which is at one’s view and
at once not you. It is not simply ambiguous, but rather ambivalent, a superposition. It
is precisely both opposing things at the same time. Just as in the first panel, the point
is not to try to resolve the tensions and oppositions or even to explore the luminality,
but rather to understand the superpositions of their difference as constituted elements
of reality. To see them as an invitation to dwell within the space of ambivalent impasse.
So Ani Liu amplifies will simultaneously undermining central experience, her work explores the
ways in which scientific and technological revolutions shift and shape the experiences
of longing, nostalgia and sexuality. She uses the tools of science and technology to turn
so called objective truths on their head by injecting biological impulse with effect.
Yolande uses materiality to the professor of weaving to nonfictionallize and announce
the textile through the thread. Rendering visible the vast [indiscernible] of production,
labor, and value behind textiles, William Stewart considers how social, political, and
economic structures and restructurings have impacted cultural consciousness and subject
formation, drawing upon political realities he sheds light on the voice of journal and
media exploration the world in role making and creating identity through myths and false
lights, explores the schizophrenic of reality as manifests through excess and lack.
So the second panel focuses on the contestation between subjective and objectivity in order
to challenge the notion of a single particular reality. Challenging the ways singular notions
of reality necessarily uproot things from the context, objectifying them and oversimplifying
our experience of them. Look at the impasse between objective and subjective truth, fiction
and speculation, real and unreal, the second panel aims to disrupt sensibilities. Their
presentations announce new forms of coherence and unities which make room for the complexity
and contradictory nature of the experience of reality as well as the associative nature
of memory. In recognizing that multiply realities exist
simultaneously in superposition and that each reality does not make the other less real.
The speakers explore new forms of stability, unity, and equilibriums between the tangible
and the intangible, between the material and immaterial. Through the Beta Real their work
reveals how things are much more connected than we like to give credit to. Sometimes
just because simply do not nomenclature, sometimes because violent simplification is a necessary
process in orienting ourselves in this world. Aware of this, work offers insightful ways
of thinking with and through the layers atterity. So now I will introduce or are presenters,
Ani Liu is an artist and speculative technology working at the intersection of art and science.
Her work explores the impact of technology on culture and identity. In viewing scientific
processes with storytelling. Narrative, and emotional expression. Her work explores the
themes of subconscious, longing, nostalgia, and memory. What does it mean to be human.
Trained at MIT, the research based art that explores a social and cultural implications
of emerging technologies. Seeking to link technology allege innovation with emotional
tangible her work has a range from prosthetics to architecture, augmented reality to synthetic
biology. Ani’s work has been presented at the Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, MIT media lab, Wisner gallery, Harvard University, as well as media
channels, TED Talks, Fox, and Wired. She taught at Harvard University graduate school of design
and has served on numerous design panels including Dartmouth College, MIT, U Penn, she is on
the committee of art scholars at MIT. Yolande Grouws is that am I pronouncing your
last name correctly? Okay. Aims to create work that is emotionally stimulating across
cultures. Originally from South Africa and practicing in Berlin since 2011, zero formerly
trained as an architecture, and five years of experience [indiscernible] exhibition concepts
for [indiscernible] her work elicits an emotional and often also memory response in viewers
using simple formal elements. Her artworks are created as emotional expressions in turn
elicit emotion. Instead formal visual elements such as color and texture patterns and proportions
are employed by the artist and easily read by the viewer.
The art making process can be seen as an exploration of the experience of intuition and non meaning.
While experiencing an emotional response to anesthetic construct.
And last but not least, William Stewart PhD student at the Princeton University department
of German. Before coming to Princeton he studied for a master’s at the University in Berlin
and worked for a number of years as a researcher also at [indiscernible]. So that’s one of
the one of the many connections running through this panel.
So his work focuses on cultural intellectual histories of industrial modernity. His interests
orbit the specific culture of capitalism and changes that culture has undergone in the
last century. He works on the roots of neoliberalism and
the social and political conditions of possibility. Rise of forms of global in the post war in
post war Europe and the changing paradigms of the real as barometer for modernism, postmodernism,
and perhaps post postmodernism. And just over the break as a fun tidbit, we just received
news that William just received I’m blanking on the name now. Fulbright scholarship. So
congratulations. [ Applause ]
And so similar to last panel I am going to introduce this panel by talking about the
work of a workshop done by one of panelists, so that is Ani Liu, and she came and did a
two day workshop in February in the VC studio I’m teaching, the studio is entitled containing
elsewhere for the burned books of [indiscernible] and the workshop was dealing with living senatasse.
So drawing upon literary phenomenology and psychoanalytical approaches and illustrated
through the figure of the uncanny doppelganger, the design research wrestles with moments
of irresolution, to show how architecture can carry within its physical spaces and surfaces
the contested nature of identity and therefore must articulate without overcoming the sameness
and difference of the every changing demographic spaces history, and memories.
Through the doppelganger the doppelganger is one instance of the disrupting force of
the Beta Real and it is experienced through the mode and affect of the uncanny. A presence
which ought to be absence. A surplus where there should be an absence. It is not the
experience of seeing someone who looks like you or someone that looks like they could
be your twin, but rather the moment you realize you’re seeing that twin and at the same time
you are both that twin and not that twin and looking at that twin. The doppelganger is
a surplus which should not be there. This create as a unique tension where me as you
while remaining me and you. So in the VC studio we’ve been using casting in the notion of
a double as a method to think through how to remember a difficult past. Specifically
we were looking at the Nazi book burnings, which took place in 1933. And so we began
the semester by casting concrete forms and they were forms meant to just contain. So
a senetaf is a container for a body that lies elsewhere. So we began with intuitive casting
with the only objective that the cast must feel heavy and should contain something. That’s
when Ani’s workshop comes into play. So we then took those same forms and in that workshop
and this will make sense when she starts presenting her work, we transformed those same forms
into a living object. So often forms are conceived and created in
in the vacuum of software and deployed for precise mechanical arms of machining. The
world that these designs are deployed into are never so simple. The living forces that
disobediently mold, there’s been a lot of mold, it’s been pretty stinky, stain, and
contaminate are inherent in the fabric of any site. Layering, growth, decay, and there
by, time, into the formal dimension, we investigated the operation of co creating within different
processes. So this exercise was a launching point into
taking account the building as a temporal living entity in as a doppelganger to the
monumental immortal casts in concrete, which began the studio. So please welcome Ani Liu.
[ Applause ]>>Okay, great. Thank you, Linda.
So thank you so much for having me here. It’s such a pleasure to take the time out to contemplate
such matters as the real and how we might brush you against it.S I give this presentation
I will be showing you images of my own work and occasionally a scientific diagram or illustration
to make a point. And hopefully you can tell the difference
between a stock image and mine, but maybe that adds to the soup. So as an artist I often
make work in a laboratory using the tools science and technology to investigate thing
that artists have always investigated. Longing, nostalgia, sexuality, what it means to be
human. And I think I’m drawn to working with such
technical media because on a cultural and societal level it’s broadly accepted that
science provides the foundations for our noble phenomenal truths. Of course there are some
contested areas like climate change, but for the most part we look it science and accept
notions of reality from scientific evidence. IE, yes, there is gravity or oxygen molecules
tend to react hydrogen in had this way. But we also get shifts in the plastic subjectivity.
And many philosophers and theorists have spoken about this idea in different way over time,
the idea that emerging technologies and scientific ideas shift the framework by which we perceive
reality. The way we perceive our world is deeply affected
by the many elements of our time, religion, culture, our economic, our technologies.
And today we often look to science and technology to inform us of objective truths, but it often
takes a cultural revolution for these discoveries to be accepted.
For instance, when early astronomers first began observing the movements of the planets
revolving around the sun and not the earth, despite hard evidence, Copernicus was condemned
because of the radical ways such an observation would challenge the authority of the church.
Much later in history we see similar conflicts over the idea of evolution. And this is because
scientific revolutions don’t just describe new information, aas humans they obvious alter
our societal norms, our sense of self. Technology does this just as radically but
often time more quietly. We often talk about the way social media alter the way we socialize
or how certain shift notions of intimacy, but also subtler forces at play which I find
interesting. Our attempts at an objective reality are always
colored by our own subjectivity which are in turn influenced by a whole array of forces.
Thomas Kuhn in his book the structure of scientific revolutions talk about the rifts in the scientific
realities in history, he calls them anomalies which lead to new paradigms. I’m particularly
interested in this interplay between scientific and technological reality and a cultural reality
or even an emotional reality. I’m interested in how all of these forces
loop back and forth into each other. And how art and design can express this.
So for instance, that’s perfume that I made with really interesting speculative science
to create perfumes that smelled like my grandmother or an ex lover that I couldn’t forget. And
these two helmets that let two people swap vision. I made them back in 2013. And I was
really interested in cybernetics and what it means to be a network cyborg and human
machine symbiosis relating back to the themes of the conference, the tension between subject
and object, the investigation of its relational knowledge and the paradigm of doubling.
These immediately also brought to my notions of quantum entanglement, where pairs of particles
can cannot be described independent of each other. Leading them to both exist both discretely
as individuals but also simultaneously entangled as a pair with its doppelganger. And that’s
Linda in the green helmet. [ Laughter ]
And, so, yeah, in fact one particle cannot even be messed with you influencing the other.
I should note I am not a scientist or a mathematician but I’m interested in the scientific real
and how it influences our construction of cultural reals and vice versa.
So another area of study that I’m interested is in the brain. And that of the subconscious.
And emotional processing. While there’s a history of separating the
rational from the emotional, there’s both old and new emerging research that shows the
importance of emotion in many domains, including reasoning, problem solving, decision making
and perhaps I should venture to say pursuit of the real.
So one of my projects is called reflesh. It’s an experiment inspired by the somatic marker
hypothesis. It’s a phenomena by which your emotional arousal indicates certain realities
in your environment before you consciously recognize them in your prefrontal cortex.
So a famous study for this is the Iowa card game study where you’re presented with four
decks of cards in the study you get offered money, you get a card higher than a certain
one, so you’re really motivated to get high cards. But you don’t know they’re not evenly
distributed, like say deck A and C have higher cards. Apparently it takes you about 60 cards
to realize this, and then you only choose from those decks, but within ten cards your
palms start to sweat when you reach for a bad deck. So I find this really fascinating,
there’s something about your emotional intelligence that knows something about what’s going on,
but you don’t consciously know it yet. So together with a friend we were like, well,
the body knows this, we can hack this. So we were like we’re going to just make a little
LED bracelet with a galvanic skin response sensor, which measures like your stress arousals
via sweaty palms and every time the palm sweats, whether you know it or not, the LED will will
light up and then we ran the study again. As it turns out, perhaps some subliminal cues
have to be subliminal, once you know that you are stressed out you tenth to get more
stressed out and it no longer becomes a meaningful indicator. It’s interesting because during
the study we had people who kind of realized what was going on and they would hold it above
the decks like some kind of, you know [indiscernible] for the future. But so it was kind of interesting
to me that we tried to illuminate the subconscious and in some ways it back fired. But the fact
that these kind of indicators exist is very interesting.
My notes, so, yeah, to give the person access to his or her affective real to test of gaining
that access could significantly change behavior. So then all of these kind of cognitive studies
led to another project, so I read all these scientific papers on emotional cognition and
started to wonder is it possible to bypass the artifact of aesthetics in art making and
just program emotions directly into your brain through your body through science?
So together with a group of scientists and engineers and friends, we imagined this thing
we called the affective induction spa, we called it the future of art. Where we used
findings from science to induce emotional experiences. Specifically happiness and euphoria.
So, for instance, studies show that really small bodily changes, like holding a pencil
in your mouth k improve your mood because it activates your psi go mattic muscles, the
same as smiling, or those that take a placebo pill are more likely to believe that the systems
are alleviated even when they know it’s a placebo. We were in the museum of fine arts
and we had these studies gathered so we literally fed participants placebo pills. We gave them
devices designed to make them smile. We flashed specific light wavelengths correlated with
euphoria and read a list of 50 most positively affectively rated words at them.
And then we flooded their social media accounts with likes while electrocuting their hands
into a thumbs up sign. [ Laughter ]
And so, you know, like it’s playful and absurd, but part of it is kind of asking questions
like how much do we want to be quantified selves. How reducible are we to flesh and
neurons, to measurements? This is a performance piece in which neuroscience and art converge
to question thresholds between the mind, body, aesthetics, and emotional experiences.
And this is the last project. Another project of mine [indiscernible] component of the reality
of our landscape. It’s called mine and the machine. It’s a textile digitally manufactured
and programmed to stitch the reflection of a factory worker’s state of mind. So I had
the pleasure of going or I guess just the interesting condition of going to a factory
in China and working there for a month. It happened to be a knitting factory. It made
me think a lot about knitting first of all that. Knitting has long tradition of not just
being functional, but expressing aspects of being human, historically, emotional, historically,
unlike machines humans have unique quirks and tendencies, so you know like maybe you
tend to daydream a lot and you tend to slip a lot of stitches or like maybe you’re tense
and all of your knits end up super tight. Knitting involves all these complex protocols
and carries the unique signature of the maker. But you know with the proliferation of automation
and factories mass produced knits have a standardized stitch that remove that mark. And of course
automation has many functions and plays critical roles in our technological advancement, but
I couldn’t help but wonder is it possible to imbue automation with something as intimate
as the mark of a brush stroke as a work of art it tries to reinsert the emotional mark
of the maker back into the machine important so this project takes the cognitive characters
of a human via EEG data and translates them into the [indiscernible] process. Took the
EEG data of a worker in a factory, and then I learned how to program the knitting machine,
which happens to be a visual language. Each color indicates a type of stitch, top to bottom
or bottom to top or double tied knot or something. And then that EEG data will be transferred
into the knit. So literally what the worker is more tense, the fabric is tenser. And more
relaxed, it’s more relaxed. And typical day in the factory involves a
lot of human attention tending to the machine. Fixing broken needles, threading the yarn
feeder, scooping out errant sketches. The days are long and often the products and labor
are anonymous. When people look at the clothes and shoes they often take for granted that
any human hands ever touched them in the making. So this project tries to stitch together a
portrait of the fact worker through the fluctuating moods through the day, capturing moods, and
meditative flow. And the resulting fabric tells a story, each unique to the worker in
that particular moment in time. And there are many ways that humans express
themselves through music, the art, fashion, what is this expression look like and the
age of mechanical production? There a way to insert the mark of being human back into
the mechanical process? And those were some of the questions.
So given much that much of the discourse around finding the real involves questioning whether
we have access to it at all, I am interested in studies in cognitive science where both
knowledge is inserted and retrieved subconsciously. IE, can we know things we don’t know that
we know just through lucid thought. And can our brains and bodies hold more knowledge
than we can access and how do we access them? Again, I’m not a expert, but these are some
launching points to the soup of ideas that we’re cooking. So thank you.
[ Applause ] [Silence]
>>Great, now you can hear me. So I just want to say thank you so much for the invitation
from Linda and Dean Speaks, it’s nice to be here and in front of such a curious audience.
Liked to start with this quote by the late Leonard Cohen.
I’d like to invite you to close your eyes and listen if you feel comfortable with that
or you can read along. …mind seems to go out on a path the width
of a thread and of endless length, a thread that is the same color as the night.
Out, out along the narrow highway sails my mind, driven by curiosity, luminous with acceptance,
far and out, like a feathered hook whipped deep into the light above the stream by a
magnificent cast. Somewhere, out of my reach, my control, the
hook unbends into a spear, the spear shears itself into a needle, and the needle sews
the world together. It sews skin onto the skeleton and lipstick
on a lip, it sews Edith to her greasepaint, crouching
(for as long as I, this book, or an eternal eye remembers)
in our lightless sub basement, it sews scarves to mountain,
it goes through everything like a relentless bloodstream,
and the tunnel is filled with a comforting message,
a beautiful knowledge of unity. All the disparates of the world, the different
wings of the paradox, coin faces of problem, petal pulling questions, scissors shaped conscience,
all the polarities, things and their images and things which cast no shadow,
and just the everyday explosions on a street, this face and that,
a house and a toothache, explosions which merely have different letters
in their names, my needle pierces it all,
and I myself, my greedy fantasies, everything which has existed and does exist,
we are part of a necklace of incomparable beauty and unmeaning.This compelling text
by the late Leonard Cohen describes thread as transforms and goes on to become part of
the world. I find thread fascinating because it transcends
dimensions. It’s at once two and three dimensional. Simple yet holds extreme potential. Physically,
ideologically it weaves a web of meaning. There is a metaphor for development, complexity,
time, connection, relationships and more literally it forms a the clothing we wear.
And this clothing and the text time industry, which Ani just referred to, the industry which
has brought it to us serve as a reflection of the times we are living in and the state
this world is in. In my work I tend to explore and expose nature
of thread and ability to make connection [indiscernible] delineate space.
What is it about lines that are so fascinating? I think this question is really so rich in
meaning. Further, what is it about raw materials that is so fascinating? It’s the nature of
lines and raw material to hold people. I’m drawn to spools of thread as raw materials
waiting to be unraveled and used to create space or meaning. We can use thread to investigate
the in between space and time, what’s not there, what can be outlined but isn’t. Seeing
a line of thread is like seeing a time sequence all at once. My explorings with thread lead
to creations of objects that are clearly aesthetic and exemplify non meaning, yet remind of an
industry on which the society relies. The weaving industry is real yet it is not seen
and as such not really thought about. Each piece starts with an idea, ideas of product
of our entire being, our ancestry included. An idea can never truly be translated.
Ideas live in a part of our mind somewhere between the subconscious and the conscious.
The materialization of an idea calls for the translation of that idea from nothing to something.
From energy to materials. From finites infinites to finites. In this process the ideas both
caught and last and in fact in its place a new idea is born. Production is always an
experiment. And that’s what’s so fascinating about creation.
We have to try it see what happens and to find out how we imagine things is not real.
It’s this birthing process as Irene so aptly calls it, that really creates the idea. At
least the physical idea. The ether idea stays pure where we left it.
So these are some production images. As long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated
by textiles. But the impetus to explore the dimensionality of weaving started in the carpet
factory in Harrismith, in South Africa, my home country, a year ago. These are more interpretations
of the previous idea. Okay. So these are the photos of the factory.
And I don’t think anything I can do can live up to the factory, it’s really quite incredible
to see. And it’s equally incredible to imagine how many other such systems are in play in
our world creating our reality. So the beauty of the thread in this factory
is really plain to see. And after my visit I was very inspired and really wanted to translate
this into some sort of artwork, but of course I had a lot of questions, questions like how
do I frame the piece? How are the strings suspended? What materials make sense? How
large should it be? So I decided to make the piece as large as
possible. In the small project space where it was to be set up and to make the frame
white so that it was kind of hidden and that you didn’t notice it.
The pins spaced according to what the staple gun allowed. And this is finished piece.
And here you can see the pins at the top and underneath you can see a second row of pins.
So there were two sheets, two sheets of thread. And the back sheet was very dense and the
front sheet was very spaced out, so when you walked pave it made a moire effect.
The piece itself required 3 kilometers of thread, and we used cotton because it had
to be recycled afterwards. So of course cotton loves to knot, so it was also very tricky
to install. And here you can see one image is only of
the one set of strings and then the second image there’s a see through second set of
strings. Okay.
So sometimes materials inspire the work. The top one of string is or thread, actually wool
is by a Berlin based fashion brand, it’s like high end luxury brand, and this material really
inspired work. This is the piece. It’s supposed to be subversive.
There’s a very thin brass thread just pulling the strings up. So it’s very plain.
And sometimes reading inspires my work. I’m sure you’re all familiar with Donna Haraway’s
string figures and the atonetwork theory, this piece is intention, it’s a piece of wood
at the top, and at the bottom there’s an acetate rod being suspended. If you forget that it’s
a suspension, it just falls. Okay. And then I work a lot with models just
to check how things are when they’re no longer in my mind. And this actually developed into
a work that I made for a restaurant in Berlin. Which used to be a old pharmacy. So here the
piece is just a working model. And this piece was really taken directly from the materials
of the restaurant so it’s a very old space, I used wood and brass and which is quite a
process to create the piece. And the strings are leather. So and I think
it’s 200 meters of string. This is the restaurant. And there’s the piece.
And it’s really it was a very interesting in the sense that I had a very clear vision
of what I wanted to do before but when the piece was finished it was a peculiar object
and really strange. But it fits well in the space and, yeah, it’s got a character of its
own. And I just like to go close by going back
to the title of this panel and by saying that creating objects in whatever form is really
exactly about the process of inventing nonfictions and in doing so disrupting sensibilities.
Thank you. [ Applause ]
>>Can you hear me? Okay. First of all, Linda, thank you so much, and Dean Speaks thank you
for the invitation to have us here. It’s been a really wonderful weekend. I’m going to jump
into the some thoughts about the title of the actual symposium, the Beta Real and go
through what I think of a potentially three paradigms of what this means because I don’t
think it’s actually very obvious what Beta Real is about, even though we’ve talk about
it today. There we go. Because my time is limited I’m going to put my cards on the table
right away and say that as I understand it all right!
[ Laughter ]>>Did you guys know there were lights in
this building in here’s the thing, the room has been lit the whole time, you just didn’t
know. I think it will be okay if we just go back
to where we were originally. If we can just get all those okay.
It will get brighter, I promise. Okay. Let’s just go keep going.
So as I understand, the Beta Real gestures to a mode of thought or better an operation
that seeks to conceive of the real or reality as contingent, multiple, and artificial, and
thereby manageable, manipulatable and usable. So I’m going to present three potential paradigms
of such Beta Real thought, that is the ubiquity of weird excess, the legitimacy of real frauds,
and the politics of speculative mediation. A lot of jargon, so let’s unpack some of this.
What do I mean with weird excess? Let’s start there.
So I would like to suggest that our discussion the Beta Real might be a discussion of a schizophrenic
thought, bracketing the well worn discourse of Deleuze and Guattari. The psychologist
of the ink block test, Hermann Rorschach, distinguished schizophrenic thought as dissociated,
illogical, fluid, and circumstantial. Not a particularly surprising chain of the descriptors
for the present day. But in its dissociative fluidity, schizophrenic
logic is marked by a particular creative ethos too. Chris Kraus tracks this in her novel,
I love Dick, maybe you guys have seen the television adaptation of this, where she describes
the schizophrenic experience as being, quote, permanently stoned on a drug that combines
the visual effects of LSD with heroin’s omnipotent lucidity. Indeed, this is what allows schizophrenic
thought to exhibit a supreme flexibility, everything makes a kind of sense. Kraus writes
that quote schizophrenic reveals content that is patterns of association like in a bore
geez world where one moment can unfold into a universe. Significantly for our context,
Kraus goes on to describe scholarship and research as forms ever schizophrenic as well.
In its I know success tense on lucidity, schizophrenic thought drives our raids on an incompetent
henceble real, she says if reality is unbearable and you give up, you have to understand the
patterns. Schizophrenic characterizes our search for
proof, says Kraus, it’s an orgy of coincidences. As Kraus continues, the schizophrenic operates
with a kind of paleologic, an insistence that A can be both A and not A simultaneously,
Timothy Morton uses this formally to it consume of objects weirdness, this is his term, withdrawnness
from us. What he calls an object’s magical rift between metaphysical essence and phenomenological
appearance. In as much as it remains suspended between essence and appearance, object violates
the principle of noncontradiction by existing as itself and not itself. As something in
addition to, something not merely itself. That is, P and not P. So an example would
be my water bottle, so you say the essence is the thing that holds water, cool, but my
water bottle is also gray, it’s also hard. But gray is not my water bottle, if you say
what’s gray and I hold this up, that’s a water bottle. And I say what’s hard, and you’re
like hard is that, no, hard is something different, it’s a quality. But it is hard and it is gray.
And it does hold water. So Morton wants to say between these two that’s not actually
something that needs to be resolved. We can is I it is both an example of hardness at
the same time that it is a thing that holds water. So that would be his notion of metaphysical
essence and phenomenological appearance on the other, P and not P. So Morton says this
is characteristic of how we encounter real things, akin to the paradoxical statement
this sentence is faculty, the sentence exists in a state of simultaneous truth and falsehood,
if the sentence is false, is true, then the sentence is false. But if the sentence states
it is false and it is false, then it must be true, et cetera, et cetera, I’m sure you
guys in philosophy 101 dealt with this, right? But it’s weird, but it works somehow.
So whether as an orgy of coincidences or a surplus logic of things being both about self
and more than itself, weirdness implies excess, it defines a situation in which more is present
that can be accounted for, explanations cannot exact the experience, when we interrogate
something weird, we encounter something whose significance or meaning is in excess of us.
We want to understand what the weird has that we don’t and why.
So I wish to connect these two ideas and say that a schizophrenic logic allows for the
weird excess of P not P in the way we perceive reality but also as what Kraus calls the drive
for lucidity results with an encounter of reality of access and works to diminish its
weirdness, a kind of perpetuating paranoid gesture, what Morton calls the schizophrenic
defense, the believe there are causal chains operating behind my back. Something weirdly
in excess of what I can observe at the any given moment.
Many the interest of lucidity, schizophrenic logic posits a pattern or narrative against
the background and insists on the priority of that narrative’s realness.
So what am I talking about? Let’s go to Number 2, real frauds. Halfway through Ben Lerner’s
2015 novel, there we go, 10:04, which I recommend, by the way, very nice book, a narrator because
one has the sense there may be more than one, sits the a dinner explaining a new novel to
a successful author sitting across from him. He tells her about a storyline he knows he
will include one he recently heard from the stepfather of a close friend. Here is the
story. A college couple are in love and the female partner, Ashley, finds out she has
cancer, her male partner vows to take care of her. She begins chemo, she very fuses to
let him into the hospital with her though. She loses her hair, drops weight, and then
one night a year in they’re watching a movie in bed and Ashley rolls over and said she
doesn’t have cancer. She’s been faking it. She pulled her hair out, purges her meals,
she has no appetite. She sits in the bathroom stall had he hospital and pretends to get
treatment. The male partner asks why. She felt alone, she says, confused, like something
was wrong with her. It had gotten out hand. The narrator here speaks Ashley’s lines, the
lie contributed to my life better than the truth until it became a kind of truth. The
successful author looks at the narrator as if trying to discern in this anecdote might
be lifted from his life and then says he should definitely include it in the novel. So what’s
going on here? A narrator, considering whether or not to include it in his next novel, which
we suspect may actually be novel we are reading, tells a story he heard from someone’s stepfather
about a woman telling a story concerning her mortality to her partner.
A narrative, cancer lie, is a subject of a frame narrative, told to the narrator, recounted
in another narrative. Whose status as framed there by becomes obvious. It’s a satisfying
tour de force of literary technique, but it’s not particularly groundbreaking. There’s a
nice weirdness perhaps to the question about whether or not this story, namely the cancer
lie, is actually in the novel by being explained by the to the author. It is there, but it’s
there only as description, as metadata. So maybe it isn’t also in the novel. P and nomenclature
P, the story of the cancer lie in some way belong to that as the narrator, we might think
of like a double mirror effect or where we have a sort of fading out of the cancer lie
back into the realm of the true narration, not really sure.
Okay. But then 100 page later a narrator encounters the stepfather of a close friend remembering
his former girlfriend, Ashley, confessing to him that she’s faking her cancer. Only
now the stepfather is married to a a woman, Emma, who is dying of cancer. He imagines
Emma doing the same thing, admitting that she is faking it. He found out it was a hopefully,
he wouldn’t be relieved, he would trash the house and leave Emma. He says, quote, if I
were to learn she was faking her death, she would be dead to me. For the stepfather, the
realness of Emma’s death is absolute. She is either truly dying or if she is faking
it, he will blot her out from his life rendering her in effect dead, in the case of Emma, the
hopefully death as real as the biological death. And then the stepfather muses about
Ashley had, his former girlfriend, wondering if she had been faking it or only said she
had been faking it if only to relieve him of the burden of watching her physically die.
Here too the lie becomes realer death than the death itself. The actual diagnosis is
secondary, perhaps even immaterial to the immediacy of the fairly that Ashley has cancer
and to the double immediacy of the narrative revealed as narrative in the admission she
has been lying about it. So unlike the frame narrative one might associate with paradigms
of so called postmodern literature, in which the frame becomes the site of fiction against
which an elusive real is contrasted, and these passages from 10:04, the frame, narrative
assumes priority as the most real element. It is multiple, contingent, also what matters
most. Against an absolute and overpowering background
of causal chains embodied here in cancer diagnosis, we find the narratives about the diagnosis
and about fidelity between lovers to be most real, drives for lucidity, deliver us back
to the weird to an awareness of the ways that certain realities are excessive, are too much
to handle. Whether on account of death or dishonesty. The lie describes better than
the truth. Thereby becoming I kind of true. The lie is a marker for the real.
I think this paradigm is not limited to Learner’s novel. You don’t have to look far to spot
this logic of truthful lies and real fraud as key points in political discourse after
the September 11th attacks. And now famous 2004 piece for the New York Times, Ron Suskind
describes a 2002 interview with a person identified only as a senior advisor to Bush, that’s Bush
Number 2, who articulated something that got to the heart of the Bush presidency, he says
guys like you are living in what we call the reality based community. You believe that
solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way
the world works anymore. We’re an empire now, when we act, we create our own reality. And
while you’re studying that reality, judiciously as you will we’ll act again creating other
realities. Which you can study too. And that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s
actor and all of you will be left to study what we do. The quotation has been acontributed
to then White House deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, although he has since denied ever
saying it. While such a statement from the White House certainly fueled a certain kind
of deep state conspiracy thinking it reveals about what we might name the political ethos
of the Beta Real. Essentially two forms of reality are in competition in this description,
first the discernible one of those occupying what that he believed to be a reality based
community and secretary is the political real of the Bush era American empire, department
on historism in which individual actors like Mr. Rove perhaps, placed in positions of political
leverage determine what will and will not be counted as real. The American invasion
of Iraq over the purported existence of the weapons of mass destruction provides an obvious
example of this sort of dynamic it hardly warrants further explication, but as a case
study for the conceive of Rove’s entire reality. Distinctly post phenomenon he names premediation,
homing in on the literal sense in which the conflict was premediated with initial U.S.
defense strategies, he traces the phenomenon to the shores the World Trade Center attacks,
he says it characterizes the reality as focused on the cultural desire to make sure that the
future has always been already been premediated before it turns into the present or the past
in large part to try to prevent the media and hence the American public from being caught
unawares as it was on the morning of 11 September, 2001. Premediation attempts to math and propagate
through maintain media various scenarios of trauma in advance, so when one occurs the
public will be better able to cope with it. While Rove’s position is marked by a chilling
fatalism about the determining power, the reality effect, of his political actions,
gruesome suggests premediating moves may not be about prove if he sizing the future, rather
the attempt to put into play as many plausible anticipatory presence as can be sustained
in the hopes that individually or collectively these anticipatory logic will allow us to
experience the future with expectation, boredom, or even mild day I can’t view, premediation
is not about getting the future right, but about proliferating multiple remediations
of the future to maintain the [indiscernible] media shock that United States and much of
the network world experienced on 9/11. Motivated by fear in the face of all exercise
of possible future traumas, the preimmediatetive tendency recalls Kraus’ schizophrenic drive
for lucidity in which the real is mitigated through the weird excess of an obsessive mechanism.
Christy Wampole has identified a form of premedia anticipation. This is the kind of news story
with a clickbait inflected question in the heed line, where reported don’t report, but
make guesses about what might happen in the future. The headlines prepare us for a future
catastrophe by rehearsing it in advance, so a schizophrenic drive reveals it self, one
that churns out speculative patterns of social and ever more content. There is a lucidity
undergirding this, but it is one with of hypothesis, the P and not P logic reveals its particular
force when one considers the very real effects these kind of speculations have on the economy
and political economy. The polling in advance of the 2016 presidential election spring to
mind as a clear example. But this is nothing less of a symptom of a schizophrenic defense,
the background out of whichever new catastrophes will emerge, but also the background out of
which, so messianic moment might also arrive. Perhaps on this wage irthat the terms of the
schizophrenic Beta Real are accepted. If the speculative lie can describe life better than
the truth, until it becomes a kind of truth, then there is hope that our most Utopian desires
might one day become real if we insist on them long enough.
So this is the situation I’ve tried to map out. Sorry, that’s very faint, of premediation,
comfortable of P, not P states of superposition, a belief in the efficacy of narratives no
matter how artificial we know them to be, and I’m struck by the [indiscernible] manifests
in paradigms I had the sense the Beta Real reflects what Flisser as the programmatic,
as program, fundamental to our reality. Social problems deal not with the forces or the purposes
of the political body but the strategies in a massive game. We just reality based zero
on function about products effect, something that the German already applies.
Game, says Flusser are ontological ground and all future ontology is necessarily game
theory. Everyone is fiction, nothing is real. Or perhaps the reformulate the claim, nothing
is real that isn’t a fiction. The injury is still out on whether this bodes well or ill
for us, it can be the Beta Real is the precondition for the variable to be productive at all.
Hans Blumenberg observed as much as in 1956, what is not as equally real as what is precision
[indiscernible] state invites imaginations. We treat reality leak a program, like something
programmable in the hopes that we might be better able to control it, might better create
with it. And in doing so we trade one weirdness for another.
The weirdness of the excessively incomprehensible, for the weirdness of the artificially manageable.
Thanks so much. [ Applause ]
>>Okay. Thank you so much for these wonderful presentations. We’re going to take another
break now. So we’ll reconvene at 4:35 and for actually the part I am most excited about,
which is the roundtable discussion to finally get all of these amazing speakers into a dialogue.
So we’ll see you soon. [ Applause ]
>>So we have we were debating how we should sit. And I decided that they should sit in
the order that we presented. Are what kind of reality that produces we
will find out. So we’ve now reached the roundtable discussion,
which is going to be moderated by Irene. And so she has selected a few images and has some
questions to start us off.>>Right. So I guess I’d like to start by
going back to one of Linda’s points, that categorical distinctions are fictional constructions.
And we are a big group, we’ve broadly can identify as thinkers and makers, but we don’t
want to set up any sort of dichotomy between the two. And I think it’s always helpful to
have sort of some disciplinary ground to stand on to start from, but I don’t think any of
us are happy to singularly define ourself as historian or artist or philosopher. I think
especially now that we’re sitting together, we can address how we think through many forms
of media. So I guess to start I’d like everybody to
give a little bit of their reaction to the way we grouped you in these panels and the
way we titled the talks. Just as a reminder, the first three we called destabilizing sites
if between. And then the second group inventing nonfictions, disrupting sensibilities.
So maybe>>Shall we start in order? As we we forced
you into these groups and we’re asking you about how you feel about being in them, so
now we’ll make you also be in order in them.>>I thought this was curated incredibly well.
It was interesting to see how things can be destabilized, whether it’s the question of
something as innocuous as a road opening up on to protester peace or joy and suffering
or the reality of clouds, I had never thought about clouds that way. You know, and had of
course Bryan and I had this weird doppelganger moment with Bryan, where you might not have
caught it, I talked about chairs fall apart and when they do, you know, Heidegger’s like
this is a moment. So to hear Bryan sort of articulate that in his own way and also to
hear me introduce Sarah Ahmed, and then he did the same thing, there are just these moments
of sin chronicity that were destabilizing at the same much it was incredibly curated,
like yeah, you did this thing. [ Laughter ]
>>Yes, I completely agree. You did it a really wonderful job. It was a real pleasure also
seeing it all together and then you kind of recognize your own role differently. I think
in our panel I really liked that there were quite a few different ways of speaking about
infrastructure and also the idea of the metaphor, you used the road as the metaphor, I used
the cloud as a metaphor and as a real thing, and I think it also kind of worked pretty
well amongst the three of us. Which made me feel good because often like
working in a kind of metaphor based way can be a bit tricky. Also I think it’s important
that we are in an architecture school to talk about infrastructure, because I really think
that’s a specialist that we as architects should be thinking about, how we can move
away from the object towards this kind of more logistical infrastructural space.
>>Yeah, well, obviously, I thought it was great too.
[ Laughter ] That sounded patronizing, I’m sorry. It was
really it was wonderful. I don’t know if I have like really specific connections yet.
I was thinking as we’re talking as Biko and Natalie were talking about the relationship
with the tool and the broken tool, something used in the moment when you notice that thing,
and I’m interested in that the idea that either an artistic practice or even the practice
of removing something and putting it it on display, that the other ways of simulating
what Heidegger was describing as a broken tool or other ways of creating that experience
was, I mean, I I think you could go to, for example, go to a plantation museum and experience
it and not feel anything is broken, right, if you’re not prepared in the right way. So
I don’t know if it’s I think the Whitney is disarming when you visit it in sense that
you’re prepared for it because it’s quite often not it’s never someone in a hoop skirt
leading you around, but it’s quite often a younger Black person that had grown up close
to that plantation that lives in the neighborhood that their families are tied to it in some
way, that that it’s not a breaking of the plantation system, it’s not something that’s
broken, but it’s a way of putting something in your face that you kind of assume that
when it works you just don’t notice it. So I’m interested in I don’t know if the same
idea of trying to find a way to envision the infrastructure that makes the cloud possible
is related or not, but I’m interested in the fact that it’s not just going out and making
something fail, it’s about making the way something works all
of a sudden apparent to you as a thing that’s working.
>>I almost like parts of what I was thinking about is something I wrote a paper, grad school
guys, this was a long time ago, I wrote a paper on it and essentially asked the question
using the slave as a model like what happens when the hammer breaks down, right? And the
slave is this perfect space where the hammer breaks down, and I’m just I don’t know how
to think about that in relation, but as you were talking and you have these slave quarters
that are right next to the swamp and these tools keep running off, keep getting lost,
they keep or in certain cases they punch back with Frederick Douglass, there’s a particular
way in which I’m interested in the slave as this object that is refusing to recede, right?
And I don’t know what to do with that, but it is incredibly destabilizing precisely because
you don’t your Mac book doesn’t say, you know, kiss my ass, it does what it needs to do in
a way that a slave is like no, I’m feeling this and I don’t want to. So there’s something
about that refusal of the object as an object that destabilizes our subject object realities.
>>So moving on to the second panel, I mean, I really loved the way you put us together
and especially this phrase inventing nonfictions, right, like I think a lot of my work has to
do with speculative design and design fictions and speculative realisms. I think that amongst
anthropologists and psychologists there’s always this argument like what makes humans
unique animals and one of them that I’ve heard is that humans are the only animals that tell
themselves stories. And in many ways we are stories we tell ourselves and then to hear
William talk about the moments where lies are more real than the truth or the way Yolande
goes and perceives these I don’t know, like these intense phenomenal experiences in the
factory and then translates them into these other kinds of experiences that are capturing
its, like, some aspect of its emotional truth, I think that it was a really interesting rounding
out of this fiction nonfiction, and storytelling, I guess. Yeah.
>>Okay. So I really enjoyed being on this panel or in my group. I think what’s really
interesting is that when Linda asked me to take part in this I was really at the beginning
stage of leaving architecture and entering the art world. So I very much thought to be
a artist in that sense. And this whole experience was very much, yeah, kind of giving me a narrative
also and forcing me to think very hard about what it means to create fictions or it create
nonfictions. Yeah.>>I think I’m struck mostly by the maybe
what we might call inadvertent resonance between so many of the projects. I mean, you began
Irene by talking about the way that categorical divisions are fictional, and that might be
the case, the two topics might be artificial divisions, but there were so many organic,
but there’s some things you couldn’t plan for in terms of thematic overlap, object lessons
people pulled out, and I think what that tells me, Bryan, you talked about home, you talked
about home with Heidegger, and Biko, I think you also had an interest in home. And maybe
to open it up to the room too, that architecture as a discipline is really inspiring for me
because it’s a home for so many different diverse kinds of thinking and it activates
and deploys so many different kinds of thinking, it’s not just about building houses. You guys
know all of this, but I think for people outside of architecture, that’s a lesson that is worth
learning and worth remembering. Because in a certain way the panel is home
to so many, you know, various and myriad ideas, which is goes back to the notion of the discipline
itself being a kind of disciplinary structure, but also a kind of arbitrary division that
nevertheless opens out and sort of enfolds so many other disciplines that are opposed
to it or that are anti to it, that one might think on the surface don’t belong to architecture.
>>Shall we switch to the next slide? So my second point with the this idea that
or aim that Linda raised of critiquing systems of power, production, and infrastructure,
and actually this relates a little bit to the talk that William, you gave to a few of
Linda’s students yesterday about the grid, suggesting maybe a reshuffling of these two
groups of three, we read into your work maybe a few pairings of sets of systems that are
shared. So perhaps I’ll run through them now and then we can kind of have these new pairs
respond to these suggested systems. So Yolande and Natalie, we found themes of
language and meaning in your work. And then Ani and William, the idea of aesthetic value
in literature and in speculative design. And then for Biko and Bryan, maybe it’s obvious,
bodies and labor. So how do we begin to critique systems of
power, production, infrastructure, through these pairings? So Yolanda, and Natalie, maybe
you can start. I’m borrowing your image, this stunning image from the factory.
>>Okay. Well, I think it’s fair to say that language in itself is a tool that has a huge
inference on the way that we express ourselves and the thing that we are able to say. So
I think that’s something that Lichenstein said, and also a system that can be manipulated
by learning different languages. For instance, I’m in Germany at the moment, so I’m fluent
in German and also like William demonstrated with it playing a huge role in helping us
to visualize ideas.>>So I was curious and I looked into the
idea of the word cloud computing and so apparently Dell tried to trademark the term in 2008,
and so just appropriating a word and using it for for marketing purposes I think is super
interesting. And cloud computing is a term entered the Oxford English dictionary only
in 2012, so six years later we take it for granted, but I think it’s really interesting
when it comes to emerging technologies and how we name.
>>Yeah, exactly. I mean, the fact that we call we say we uploaded to the cloud rather
than that we save it in a data center just is kind of phrasing is really interesting.
And, I mean, cloud computing relates to the fact that it’s remote computing. So there’s
this interesting thing, kind of very non Heideggerian happening between like, yeah, remoteness and
kind of these unknown location, inaccessible sites, changing sites, discrepancy between
the sites of production and the sites of archiving and, yeah, with this term “cloud” you can
just kind of continue forever, because like there’s so much suggested by it, and the way
it cloud also there’s a course of history, I mean, for example, in religious theaters
in the 15th century in Florence they build these cloud props that would be mediators
between kind of the earth on stage and heaven. So again like cloud the cloud was kind of
used as this mediating tool between a here and a somewhere else, like an inaccessible
space. And in terms of how Yolande and I relate,
I think this image is really nice because it has a kind of cloudiness, it’s like about
densities. It’s also about materiality. It’s about these it visualizes an industry, visualizes
a projection process, also visualizes a material, I guess it’s cotton, right? What? Wool. So
actually what we see here is also the sheep that had to be sheered and raised and so if
you start looking at thing in terms of clouds, like as something that visualizes a vast amount
of processes and information, it I think it’s like quite a rich term basically.
>>I just add to that it’s actually that wool is also obviously a material of memory. Something
that Natalie deals with a lot is that wool, like hair or like your nails, it’s something
that contains memory inside of it and we can relate that directly back to the internet
or to a worldwide web. So here we have the wool as the yes.
>>The archival quality.>>Archival material, but we can also have
the digital format.>>So then Ani and William, also we William,
you talked about the MFA and the legalization legal real in had the art world and I found
that that that linked you and Ani’s project of the affect induction spa a little bit about
how we read cultural value in aesthetic experiences. So maybe you can react a little bit to Ani’s.
>>[indiscernible]>>Well, I had some thoughts when you first
brought this up, but I’m not sure if this is exactly what you were thinking.
Because the two words I wrote down were aesthetics and language. And I think perhaps it’s almost
too obvious that kind of intersection between my interest in like science and technology
and art. Like often lands in perception. So for a while I was really interested in whether
there was kind of a universality in the simiotics of aesthetics. For instance, we are social
animals so we’re prone to finding faces in things. If you design a chair or something
and place the handles in specific ways always going to see a face. Or like your amygdala
will almost always light up if you see the top eye whites of someone else’s eyes, like
evolutionarily that means occasion my God, that was probably something horrifying happening.
And now of course we are inundated with so much data and the kind of aesthetic packaging
of big data is like such a huge, I guess, problem, like, you know, when I’m not, like,
making art because that’s all I want to do in life, I have to take a lot of freelance
work; it’s often data visualization. So for me, that’s also a really interesting
project, because it means that some amount of invisible information in this world has
been accumulated into bits or numbers and now I have to recalibrate it back into the
phenomenal world as an image or a sensory perception or something like that.
So, I don’t know, for me, it’s always entangled that the visual and the semantic and symbiotic,
like how to express the kind of abstract thing that William is saying in his talk through
aesthetics, like how would I ever do that? Can you communicate something to you as complex
as that without words is something that I’m super interested in.
>>Yeah, I’ll try to then span your comments, Ani, and Irene, your provocation, I guess.
So this combination of aesthetics and value, the way that a value can be aesthetic or an
aesthetic can be evaluated or given a value, that obviously calls into question immediately
what sort of system of value we’re dealing with. Are we looking at is this a monetary
notion of value? Is this some sort of like humanistic notion of value? Is this an ethical
notion of value? What do me mean when we say value. And obviously it’s a term in America
is deeply loaded. Sort of bottom line market forces or neoconservative discourse about
family values, those are note accidentally invoked. So to talk about aesthetic value
of either a work of art or experience quickly gets you into heavy waters. Ani, I like your
work so much because it seem to be driving precisely at that nexus. Institutional critique
within art in the twentieth century starting from Duchamp forward, but especially 1960s
forward has done a lot of work to draw attention to and map out the spaces of the institutional
forms of power that determine what thing can be called art or not called art, right? So
like in a vacuum the fountain urinal could be a work of art, but everyone knows that’s
not true, you need a museum, you need a gallery, you need a collector, you need someone else
external or a lot of people external to say, yes, this is art.
And I think that so much of art after all of this critique has kind of thrown up its
hands against that point because it’s really difficult to figure out if you say if that’s
the case about how an artwork operates, you either have to like tackle that problem or
kind of turn a blind eye to it. And most people I think choose the second option because it’s
easier and we also like the idea when we walk into a museum or gallery space and we see
a work of art or if you walk into like a architect building, you’re like this is beautiful, pure
aesthetic extension that happens to also like take the form of materiality. But you also
know there’s anee more muscle amount of money behind it and there’s an enormous amount of
like where there’s money there’s politics. And I think what’s interesting about your
work, Ani, it seems to go to the heart of that. You seem to hedge sometimes in conversation,
you seem to be apologizing about you know my work is too Lois to the commodity. My work
is too close to the forms of labor I’m actually trying to critique, but I think that’s actually
what is precisely very interesting about it, is that it’s coziness there is one that is
very parent to the viewer, you don’t try to hide that, and them the viewer is confronted
with the facts that if I want this beautiful thing I also have to take with it a system
and I’m confronted with a system I purport to not like, whether it’s a labor system or
whatever.>>It’s so insightful of you actually, I didn’t
is I that, but the piece at the MFA where I’m electrocuting people, literally they’re
wearing gowns because it was for an event at the MFA for the platinum level donors and
it was a black tie gala, and they were like can you make some art to entertain?
[ Laughter ] The highest donors? And then literally it
was like oh, man. And it’s literally in a gallery called the David Koch room, and it’s
kind of interesting, but it’s like I want to critique capitalism and art as a commodity
and yet I’m being hired by this museum to entertain richest patrons of art. So that
is always kind of like sitting within me as a duality. But yeah.
>>You guys can probably talk for hours.>>Yeah.
>>We’ll cut you off, don’t worry.>>Actually, maybe there’s a way to connect
it here too, in the sense that the question so when I talked to my students about architecture
and labor, the question of money is what comes up immediately. And the way architecture I
teach in a program that has architecture students but also building construction science students.
So they’re regional contractors and inevitably they are going to make more money than most
of the architecture students on average, and we talk about this question, A, of understanding
architectural work as labor itself, as understanding the kind of production of drawings as a labor
that deserves to be compensated fairly. That this is clearly a thing that architects have
probably, you know, battled with for centuries, but I think it’s a pretty interesting the
sociologist, Lawrinson in her book calls professions are she said I got interested in this problem
because I was watching underpaid architecture techs laboring in the offices, I was asking
will you unionize? They say no, that’s what labor does. We’re not labor, we’re a profession.
But she was interested in the fact that that reaction was one coming from the kind of estimation
of what we’re doing as architects that sits maybe in a different reality to the way we’re
compensated for what we do. So there’s already that interesting question that of course goes
back to a 19th century late 19th century problem, the vision of the general contractor and the
architect. So we start there, but so the question of architecture as labor is one, but then
backing up a bit further to another problem that originates in the 19th century, what
I’ve found as a really good starting point as I guess it was three or four years ago
when Hadid made the remark that it’s in my responsibility what happens on the job site
at the stadium in Quatar, and people got up in arms about this, how can you say that when
migrant labor is being used and exploitive and basically almost like wage slave kind
of conditions, and that there is a lot of, you know, injuries and potentially deaths
happening around these labor conditions. And the interesting thing is of course what she
was expressing is exactly what we’ve written into the contract. This is the AIA standard
contract says we’re not responsible for means and methods. So this follows back to a 19th
century sort of division of the architect and the labor of building architecture, that
these are the idea and you see lots of people in early 19th century saying like don’t get
your hands dirty. In fact, if the architect becomes labor, then there’s more possibility
for you to exploit your client. So this definition of the architect as a mediator between actual
construction and money is this kind of fundamental 19th century commitment for some of the early
are architects that of course that feeds into then understanding what you’re doing as labor
or not. So you position yourself between labor and capital and then what happens in that
middle position. So I think there’s to end this like really
long set of comments is that I think it’s interesting like in the south, in American
south in the 19th century there’s potentially a different set I mean, there is a different
set of conditions in the relationship of the labor of construction, the conceptualization
of architecture, and that the laborer itself is conceptualized as property in the same
way the architecture is being conceptualized as property. What it winds up doing is creating
a different kind of way of conceptualizing labor and then the event much later emergence
of architecture as a distinct practice in the South. So yeah. That’s where it ends.
>>I don’t know, you brought up a question of sort of resistance, a response to political
problems, and it’s interesting, my personal life, my personal work is aimed at resistance,
so my scholarship, when I’m thinking with in a certain vein will always be normative,
and it will always push against it will always push against a certain kind of structure that
is premised upon white normativity. It will always do that. But one of the ways that you
can do that is not by yelling Black Lives Matter all the time, which is what I did for
my entire graduate school career, that’s how I was able to do work, one of the ways to
do it is to disrupt people’s sense of this gets back to the panels, disrupt people’s
sensibilities to the point where they’re stuck. So this is like part of the presentation for
me has everything to do with I don’t want us to land on whether or not the road should
be a space of protest or a space of police brutality, because if we do that in our sort
micro cosmic spaces it works out well, but the country itself has yet to do that kind
of work. And so I think part of what brings me here
in terms of questions of infrastructure is that that is built into the very infrastructure
of this country, sort of a historical kind of aesthetic level. So no shade to the President,
but infrastructure means what? There’s a way in which this narrative of perpetual progress
that the country that is central to the country’s mythical and cultural infrastructure are is
played out in the country’s actual infrastructure. Right? That these roads are not conduits of
sheer travel. And what I wanted to do, you know, in articulating it in this way is to
say until the country in general reckons with its past in the way that Germany might have
done, why are we we have to realize that these spaces will always be spaces of contestation.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? So I think that’s one of the ways in which
I was trying in my presentation to do that, I was hearing it in other spaces, and William,
I was resonating with you at different levels in large part because there are communities
in this country that know that the country is lying to us. And we yell that you’re lying
to us is and then you tell us we’re the ones lying to you, right? And then there’s a situation
who is actually fake news? Well, we know what the real is. But we would rather tell ourselves
that the real in the the real, right? So when Charlottesville happened, Ellen tweets out
this is not us. And I’m looking, I’m saying, girl, where you been? I mean, this is us,
right? Let’s wrestle with the fact that Charlottesville is us. So I think that’s what I’m until we
do that kind of work, I’m interested in how this country will continue to sort of be stuck
how it will want to say something, how we’ll want to move forward. But it will continually
shoot itself in the foot. Such that progress is always a violent and violating process.
So, yeah, that’s my roundabout way of thinking with both Bryan and with William and with
other folks on the panel too. I mean, it’s in different way to Ani was talking about,
so you do realize like I’m a professor at Syracuse University, right? And that is wonderful
and horrible at the same time. Right? I don’t mean that in like a crapping on Syracuse,
but like the University in many ways is a neoliberal institution, kind of economic realities,
there are privileges associated with being here. And I’m yelling we have to resist, while
I make good money sitting in a well, make money
[ Laughter ] I won’t say good. But make something like,
you know, three digit salary or something. [ Laughter ]
Something like that, right? But I’m secure and not even secure yet, wait until tenure
happens, something like security, right? So that’s essentially, you know, that impasse
that confusing space is also another space of impasse as well. And I feel you with that,
Ani, that you get stuck there, you know, you want to resist, you want to push back and
you realize I got bills to pay and how do you little. You know, so…
>>Yeah. So I think just to circle back, yeah, I think we push back on not understanding
what is real by what is written in the dictionary or on our pay stubs or in a contract and maybe,
yeah, Linda, how would you relate all of these sorts of comments that are uncomfortable and
complex to what we understand as the real?>>So I think what’s really exciting for me
with this group of people is kind of finding actually a shared conversation here. I think
it feels like really kind of almost effortless and apparent here in this discussion and in
this in the presentation, yeah, of course, like the real is not real and like everything
that’s real is a fictional constructs, but then, you know, that’s a shifting reality
too. But that I don’t think that’s how thing usually are. So this is like a particular
a very particular group of people had that I’ve been really happy to have been able to
have a sustained conversation with, and that we can have this conversation.
I think what it identifies is a sort of needed way of thinking through the moment that we’re
in right now. And we’ve had this conversation before about how because what the Beta Real
is essentially is that it’s a sort of recognition of the need to produce structures, what are
category of distinctions or of fictions, that the need for some sort of stable ground in
order to start to understand reality. But and that’s just how I usually think of reality.
What the Beta Real is is a recognition of that as such, where you can then using that
put that stable ground, keep it and let it be quicksand. And that is that moment of like
sitting in the middle passage or in the contestation or in the kind of it’s not resolved, it cannot
be resolved, and both are necessary. And so I think for me what all of the work is sharing
across all of the panels and all of the pairings is that kind of understanding of reality which
sort of moves beyond oh, like the hyperreal or like the copy is authentic. It’s not about
those kinds of hyperrealities anymore and it’s really about trying to understand the
contradictions and ambivalence and these sort of really difficult tensions that are becoming
more especially in the political climate right now more about more heightened and more and
the more pressing. Or maybe it always was.>>We have one more slide. We’re borrowing
from Bryan’s article, the idea that difference is not overcome, but maintained in and as
generative and destructive tension. And then so that was quoting from Linda, setting the
symposium to quote Bryan how he describes Schulz’s diagram about the impossibility of
two absolutes, these two marks are made whole by the dotted and thus provisional path along
which subjectivity orients toward its home. So I don’t know how we’re doing on time, but
I guess opening up to talk about subjectivity and maybe seeing ourselves as this dotted
provisional line trying to hash out all these ideas.
>>Just to add another layer to that, that quote that you quoted as me is actually me
quoting Biko.>>Okay.
>>He didn’t even realize he said it, so…>>I’ll just say something very short. Thanks
for the advertisement. So the issue of log that I just finished editing, there’s 18 amazing
contributions that or the kind of fundamental idea was phenomenology is a kind of concept
that been used in architecture has gotten this name for kind of universalizing agenda,
but it says this is way the world is and should be experienced. And what the various writers
if this issue are doing, they’re looking at conditions of gender or disability or race
as ways to understand that there’s not actually there’s not actually a single diagram that’s
going to explain what architecture is meant to do, and it’s in the effort of merely saying
there’s more than just this one thing that I think there’s a lot of power in some of
the essays that are that I was able to collect. In the sense that that’s the claim. There
is more. There’s more than a single diagram. So in what I what I’m excited about at least
in the sense of using phenomenology still is the idea that subjectivity and the way
people are in space matters to architecture. That’s what we have to be talking about. That
the danger of other you know, of particular philosophical trends might be that we wind
up kind of alleviating ourself of the responsibility to think architecture in relationship to people.
That we turn architecture itself into into something that doesn’t have to have tensions
because it functions in its own isolated discourse. And, I mean, I think the attempt to always
connect architecture to social and political experience makes it really difficult, like
as we saw this morning, the question of how do you make stuff that’s representing or talking
about such a talking about a moment of violence, but even beyond that just talking about humans
and it’s trying to so it’s going to make it harder, but that’s probably what’s good about
caring about people is that it’s a lot harder than not.
>>It’s the middle passage. I think of it. So you all see this bottom one, I’m kind of
influenced by it now, thanks, Bryan. It’s this bottom image, right? And the bottom image,
how many of you all are familiar with the middle passage, raise your hand. Is this the
moment where west Africans are placed in the bellies slave ships and end up going different
places and they end up in the west. What’s interesting though is for 23 hours out of
the day they’re in a windowless, dark space where they might as well be dead but they’re
not. And where they are somewhere but they’re not anywhere, because they don’t it know how
far away they are from land and they don’t know how far away they have to to get to land.
And I’m interested, this is me riffing off of you, I’m interested in
what that says in contemporary spaces, I’m not an architecture, don’t even I’m not going
to lie to y’all, most of y’all know that, but the reality my lack of architectural training
forces me to look at a space and say what’s happening here. And I think in certain ways,
like, we have to think along middle passage realities, not simply black middle passages
but also like the idea that we’re that the human condition, I think, is a constant modality
of disruption, always suspended between the ideals we want to have and the complex, nasty
ugliness that is everyday existence. And we with so badly want certainty, we so badly
want to say we can get out of this and then we try and then you inevitably violate someone
in the attempt to create certainty. So it’s interesting for the black lives matter
movement, and I’ll that the Black Lives Matter movement is founded by three queer black women,
and Mckesson is the guy who is the poster child for the movement. What happened to the
three queer black women in? They got lost behind this to attempt to behind certainty
about leadership in a resistance movement. How do you deal with the fact that every time
you try to make certainty, somebody is going to get brutalized in the process. That’s what
I’m interesting in. Not simply my own blackness as a way of thinking through the human condition,
but also the fact that we lose things when we try to be certain. We really do. And religion
is interesting to me, because this is what churches do all the time, praise the Lord,
and everyone else who doesn’t praise the Lord is on their way to hell. How do you think
through that? How to you make sense of that incredible tension that continually stays
there? Particularly Protestants, no shade to Protestants in the room, I was a cogent
boy, I loved church, haven’t been in a while though.
>>So on the topic of that kind of subjectivity, so I have these kind of mixed thoughts and
maybe don’t tie very well together. Which one to start with? Like one is that
given this discussion and this is a room full of designers, like I keep thinking like how
do you then make tools or methodologies in which someone can transcend their own subjectivity
to design in this kind of multiplicity of ways. And maybe this is a bad example, but
like I remember there is a case study at Idoe where a group of designers had to design something
for an older position, much older, and then what they does was instead of designing thing
first, they designed this really intense wearable apparatus that would give them things like
arthritis and also they would wear these goggles that would make their vision blurry. And they
like strapped rubber bands between their legs and waist so their mobility was limited. And
so like maybe that’s really didactic, but that’s one way, right? Maybe you would never
think of this way of designing a door handle until suddenly you are unable to open door
handles. Another completely maybe totally different thing is I was thinking about a
BR study I read once where a bunch of people were asked to make a video game, and they
performed worse if they had to be in the avatar body of a woman. The same game. Super weird.
And they performed the worst if it was a black woman’s body.
And like that’s so crazy you know, like it’s like I remember when I read it I was so blown
away that but also kind of in a weird way inspired that through this technology you
can attempt to somewhat superficially inhabit another body and make insights.
Then I guess lastly it’s going back to that project I made with the vision swapping helmet,
because I remember one of the things that happened was I had a critic who actually put
it on with me about then just ended up wearing it for an hour with me. And it’s like wow,
that’s crazy. But basically what happens when you swap vision with someone else is in some
ways your vision is totally useless because you can’t see what you’re going to run into.
I can literally walk into garbage can. But I would crash into a trash can and she would
hear it and then whip her head towards sound and I would see myself walking into it, because
there was a delay in our signal. And somehow we became like a network sensory loop. I couldn’t
survive without her in the wild and vice versa. So I think of things like this. Like can we
create more games or simulations or technologies that just completely turn upside down this
notion of this is me in my brain body flesh system. Yeah.
>>I think some of these came up during the reviews too, right? Like the problem of assuming
linear time or dealing with progress in the case of the students dealing with the Erie
Canal monument. Yeah.>>No, I’m trying to shut up, I’ve said too
much. Go ahead.>>I want to put one more piece on the table,
I mean, it’s a really provocative drawings or imaginations of what diagrammings of activity
might look like, but I think it’s also worthwhile to circle back to the tool, because Biko,
you talk about it, Ani, your work deals with it, Yolande, your work deals with it, Bryan
I feel like your discussion has tools somewhere in the background, Yolande, your notion to
what extent the cloud can be a tool for us. Subjectivity is also bound up in the discussion
of prosthesis: So the way the human extends through some kind of a tool. Because the hammer
can’t be any shape. The hammer has to fit into your hand.
Like in a certain way this is the whole point of the tool breaking down telling you what
the tool is about. There’s a way that you can break tool in a way that won’t tell you
anything about it. So if the hammer becomes too heavy to lift, if you don’t realize it’s
the thing you’re supposed to be able to carry around and swing with a nail doesn’t make
any sense to you in the first place. There’s already a notion about subjectivity being
placed into this microphone because it has to register my voice in a certain, like, frequency
and certain level of volume, but then also give it to you guys in a way that’s not too
soft or too loud. So already in the tools we’re using we’re implying other subjects,
applying our own subjectivity. And the tools in a certain way show us certain moments or
ideas about our specific this is a notion that it’s in Germany, in the late 19th century,
a guy named Kapp, who writes a book about the philosophy of cultural technologies. And
his whole notion is that the humanist tradition is about subjectivity as something that is
about the inward gaze or sliding back in of who am I as a human. He says that’s kind of
not actually enough, what you also have to do is say how does the human manifest outwardly?
What is the footprint? What is the fingerprint of the human as it extends away from the body?
And way that the body I guess the notion would be culture always implies a kind of technology.
That there is no you cannot talk about like a nature versus culture divide because even
the notion of nature in opposition to culture involves a [indiscernible] to tell you about
what nature could be or what culture could be. So that would just be one more piece on
the table. There may be a third a third diagram we need about the subject reaching out to
tools, and the way the tool is is already tool is already implying the subject, otherwise
it can’t be a tool.>>[indiscernible] calls that wovenness. So
that’s literally all I had. The flesh is what just kept coming to mind as I was thinking
about both what you and Ani were saying. For him the flesh is this primary thing that we’re
all participating in and somehow are sort of carved out of, but we’re only able to relate
to each other because we’re simultaneously the same same thing and not the same thing
at the same time. So part of the prosthesis process is this conversation about reaching
out into a world that is simultaneously you and not you. So I’m absolutely there with
you. I just wanted to add that. And the scientific part made me think about [indiscernible] how
we’ve taken her cells and did incredible thing with them. I don’t know where to go with that,
but thought about that as you were talking.>>That idea that in fact your body already
is a prosthetic, these things that I realize my body was older than myself, enormously
disturbing sense when you really miss body, it’s invested in something that seems to be
older than my control of my own body and that in itself is something that’s that is not
just me. It’s also not me. My body is already says my body is already sided with the world.
Yeah.>>isn’t it your cells replace every seven
years, so maybe yourself is actually older than your body. I don’t know.
>>Your cell is older yourself?>>Self.
>>Self.>>So I was about to say the same thing. Which
I’m going let Ani jump on because we talked about this actually during the workshop she
gave her talking about microbes.>>Oh, yes. I mean, it’s interesting, I didn’t
know that your body replaced all its cells every seven years.
But no, no, it’s interesting. Because this is totally unattended but for instance every
time I have a break up I want to shave my head because I can’t stand the fact that I
made this hair during that period of time. And certainly I have hair that’s a lot longer
than seven years, but I was just thinking that. But other than that
>>You shave your head the last break up?>>That’s not for right here.
[ Laughter ] But in terms of identity and maybe subjectivity
and selves, actually, one of the things I’m really interested in the last two years is
the microbiome. And maybe this is one of those kind of statistics that is wrong in being
tossed around, but for every ten cells you have, nine are some or organism and you can
tell because they’re really tiny and most live in your gut. But and I’m sorry, because
some of you already heard me, like, give this will micro lecture, but they are doing really
interesting experiments with it about the microbiome, for instance, they see these mice
that C section out and they have no bacteria that’s ever touched them and then they get
plated with the bacteria of an aggressive mouse and it tends towards aggression. Same
with anxiety and depression. And again, this notion of the self is so fascinating because
up until now I’ve always thought nature versus nurture, I have the DNA for anxiety or I’ve
grown up in a war torn country and now I’m anxious, but the idea with another organism
with a different set of DNA co makes me, I think, again, shifts that notion of identity
and who we are and also how we commingle, because if we cohabitate then our microbiome
gets shared and interesting thing happen. So yeah, cells, identitity, multiplicity.
Yeah. I mean, I also when you were mentioning the hammer, I thought of two quotes. One is
if all you have is a hammer then everything look like a nail. And the other is marshal
Mccluen quote is that we make our tools and then our tools make us, and it’s always this
loop.>>Should we open the floor?
>>Yeah, I’ll just before we open to Q and A, I’ll just make a general comment. I think
what is really fascinating for me is to see all of the resonances. Like we were talking
about the flesh and how things are interconnected but we can also describe it in a super scientific
way, we can describe it in a super infrastructural way, and also describe it in the production
of making. So I think it’s been really exciting for me to realize that this conversation is
broader than just some thing that I was thinking in my head and trying to understand my own
reality. And it’s I think the conversation has kind of pointed out it’s encircled I guess
a topic that I didn’t really necessarily think yet was really a topic before we all got into
conversation. So I’m really grateful for the dialogue and
all of the you guys all entertained my many texts that I sent to you and readings and
questions and responses and furiously wrote back back and forth. So thank you so much.
[ Applause ]>>So questions from the audience.
>>Okay. So this might be a bit of a circle question here. But in the way that Biko, you
were talking about how we’re not aware that we’re sitting in the chair and then Ani you
were saying how often our body is aware of thing before ourself is, is it possible that
in the way that our body becomes aware of a certain truth that we haven’t become aware
of, do we use objects in a similar way to become aware of the truths of reality? I don’t
know who that question is for, maybe just a general question.
>>So I’ve been reading a lot about the nonconscious, so you know how we have the subconscious or
unconscious, and conscious awareness? But as also there’s nonconscious that influences
us. And basically the reason why I’ve been looking into it is because there are theories
that with computing we haven’t actually outsourced thinking, we’ve outsourced kind of these nonconscious
processing like information processing or like pattern making processes. So how our
sensors are or digital sensors turn data into patterns that have some kind of meaning. So
in a way I don’t know if that may be related, but the real is kind of all this unknown,
the stuff we’re not even aware of, like microbes living in our guts.
>>See, this is what I mean that I think Linda and Irene, curated such a nice panel because
I’m obsessed with that.>>[away from mic]
>>Yeah. But in terms of your question, yeah, I mean, it’s something I think about a lot.
There’s certainly a lot more data floating all around us that would be overwhelming to
perceive at any moment, and yet in order for you to be alive in a way you do so there is
a system running, and I think it’s kind of interesting because some technologists and
some designers have been pushing that limit, like what’s his name, David Eagleman created
a vest that vibrated in certain ways depending on the stock market behavior, not knowing
exactly what all the vibrations meant whether he could get a kind of intuition for it. You
know, like the way mothers get an intuition that their baby is hungry now or crying now,
but they couldn’t tell you like if this, then that. That kind of like really big data processing
that our brain already does is interesting to me.
And, yeah, like I think there are certain design moves that can illuminate that, or
not. But I wouldn’t be able to tell you so directly,
I guess, like these are the moves you should make. But I think your question is an insightful
one.>>I would point out to be careful with that.
[indiscernible] harvested a bunch of data from Facebook [indiscernible] likes in 2014,
and used these likes from about 50 million users to determine essentially political motivations
and the way it works is if they had 68 likes, so basically 68 different times where you
liked something, they could predict within a 95% chance things about you. Were you black,
were you white, were you gay, straight, how would you vote? If they had 160 likes they
can predict better than your parents, and 300 likes they could predict better or more
accurately than your significant other. So within 300 likes came bridge analytical knew
you better than the person you were sleeping with, which is insane, and creepier part,
and this is now in the news and Facebook is changing all its policies but the problem
is those metrics don’t change for you. For most people that will then last for like a
long, long time, perhaps their entire life. So even if they only harvested likes from
you when you were like 17 or 25, when you’re 65, that information has the same potency.
So in that case I would say there will we have an instance of a tool in a certain way
reading thing that are perhaps nonconscious, I don’t know, but affects are insanely powerful
and deeply lasting and for all intents and purposes a kind of permanent. So I would also
say watch out be really careful and think about how this stuff works.
>>Yeah, that one is something really interesting, because I’ve also been following it closely.
In a way, the problem I should check myself when I say this, but I feel like part of problematic
aspect is how Cambridge analytica used the data afterwards and not the findings, per
se, the findings unveil uncomfortable truths about ourselves to ourselves, like gosh, like
maybe I didn’t know that I’m secretly conservative, but like, you know, all the data points that
way. That’s different than I think using this for a certain kind of political manipulation.
It gets really, I think, troubling for me, not to trouble you all so much, but like that
same kind of data we collect for genetics too, you know, like there are artists that
actually do really beautiful work about this, like Heather Hagborg did this piece, she would
take a cigarette butt off of a subway car and sequence it and 3D print the face of that
person. And, you know, it’s all about illuminating
not just digital surveillance, but genetic surveillance, but I’m sorry, I don’t mean
to go on, but, like, it makes assumptions too, like not every code of DNA will then
definitively say you are exactly like this. So it also illuminates certain prejudices
in science, like when you see this snip that indicates that you’re Southeast Asian, how
you’re going to render that, those are still subjective choices. I don’t know where we
were going with this, but>>Can I take a stab at this to a certain
extent too? I think what I’m interested in is the production of truth is also a question
as we’ve been talking about is also a question of home. And so first [indiscernible] has
this line [indiscernible] cigarettes where I used to smoke, but I’ve been sober how many
weeks? I don’t know.>>Three, four.
>>Four.>>We’ll round up to four. But he has this
line where he says I’m not at home in the world. Even something as visceral as smoking
a cigarette, he says I’m always acutely aware every move I have to make to smoke the cigarette.
I know I have to reach into my back drawer and pull one out and I have to light a match.
Whereas many people don’t think, I don’t do this out of habit but out of complicit knowledge.
So there’s the way in which the question for me about tools, even tools like Cambridge
an litca, the facility with which we use tools speaks to our facility with environments,
it speaks to how at home we are in the world. And so that even the uses of tools becomes
sites of contestation, because if I’m not at home in the world, I might take a soccer
ball and shoot it through the basketball hoop. And there’s that way that speaks to my lack
of homeliness. So even the use of a tool ultimately what I’m trying to get at here is even the
use of a tool and even the use of a hammer is an indication of a kind of homeness, at
homeness with everyone knowing what a hammer is and what a hammer is supposed to do. And
so that becomes even for me a sight where we have to raise other questions, as an aside,
Heidegger was trained in theology too, so it’s not by asking to use a hammer, because
he was a carpenter, so he’s trying to also signal to Christianity. So there’s this normative
Christian significance between neither supposedly neutral analyses that are also contested or
speaking to a contested truth because not everybody is Christian and not everybody needs
to use a hammer, even knows the hammer’s significance. Is that helpful? It depends how at home you
are in the world if the tool actually can be the production or the object or the avenue
to truth. And it’s just I mean, for me I can walk down
thally way at nighttime and I have a problem, and but you walk down the Al alleyway, even
the use of that alleyway become as a contested site because you I might be less at home than
I am. Do you understand what I’m>>I guess I still question the [away from
mic] contested leads to the truth [away from mic] but [away from mic]
>>Tears seem universal until you go somewhere else. Yeah, they seem yeah, right, they seem
universal too. So that’s the interesting part.>>[away from mic] line scientists are using
to kind of play God in a sense of reformulating like DNA and genetics so like they can decide
like, I don’t know, height, like, athletic ability and stuff. So what happens when you
become afraid of the tools that you’re using?>>I was about to say something and I wanted
to run through many scenarios to see if it was true. So maybe it’s to the always true,
but I was going to say that most tools are fairly neutral, it just depends on how you
use them. Right? [indiscernible] also can you know like potentially help someone with
Parkinson’s not have Parkinson’s anymore, and it can also unfortunately make it so you
can design your baby in particular ways that reflect your cultural hierarchies. So this
is a tough one. I guess I would kind of shift that conversation in that often times the
people who have power to make these decisions, like this isn’t a very democratic conversation,
often, like because first you need to know what crisper is and you have to read all these
papers. Often it’s a small ivory tower group of people who are discussing it and about
then of course I guess I suppose there are lawmakers also, but this is I think I really
believe this like is why art and design really come into play, because when Heather makes
those sculptures of the DNA surveillance then everyone can talk about it a little bit. I
want to make it so that a 14 year old girl on YouTube and also like us sitting here in
this symposium can have these conversations because they affect all of us.
So I guess going back to your point I’m not sure at all tools are are inherently loaded
in those kinds of ways. But I’m sure you could probably find some examples where they are.
Yeah.>>Just one thing is this on? All right. Really
close. One thing I have this is these moments where I a I’m never going to talk about Heidegger
again, I’m done, but then he come up again and then for some reason it’s useful and I
don’t know if that’s good or bad, but there’s a distinction that he makes in being in time
between fear and anxiety. In that fear occurs when there’s a thing. There is something that’s
proximate enough that fear it can do damage. And anxiety is in Heidegger’s definition anxiety
occurs because you can’t actually identify a thing that is producing that experience.
And I guess fear is probably the right way to initially describe some specific piece
of technology it, maybe there’s fear of like if I see a handgun on a table, I could have
proximate fear of that, but the anxiety distinction is an interesting one for when we say technology
in a kind of vaguer way, like should we have anxiety over technology, when things start
to leave their kind of immediateness and I kind of wonder when we talk about crisper
or something like that, is it an immediate fear or are we just anxious about not knowing
what things are going to mean anymore when this is there? And we’re not even scared of
it, we’re just having anxiety about nothing. I don’t know. We’re having anxiety
>>[away from mic]>>Yeah. So I don’t know if that’s actually
helpful.>>And maybe it’s not so much a fear of the
actual tool, it’s more a fear of being left behind by not having access to the tool. Because
in a way it’s like you don’t have to use the tool if you don’t want to. But I think it’s
actually more linked to what if you become inadequate because you’re not enhanced or
like because you don’t have access?>>I’m just going to add really briefly, the
production of fear or sort of dissipation into anxiety I think come from a series of
unreconciled strivings, in certain ways technology as we think about it in sort of banal sense,
like everyday sort of basic sense is premised upon perpetual futurity, so we look forward,
we freak out about crisper, we forget about the atom bomb, we’ve been here before, but
our anxiety is produced because we forgot we’ve been here before, we produce something
that has potentially dangerous effects. So then we freak out like oh, we did you know,
right, like we’re about to do dangerous stuff but we don’t realize we’ve already done this.
And part of it is and this specifically at least from my perspective a uniquely American
phenomenon, black, white, whatever, we are perpetually oriented into futurity when maybe
we should probably look back every once in a while and not look back in a sense of trying
to give one specific narrative, but just sitting in the past in its multiplicity, not in here,
but in the past, which is a distinction. History tells a story, the past just kind of is this
hodgepodge of stuff and we haven’t done that, right? So Donald Trump is Ronald Reagan number
two, but worse, right? It is what it is, like Bill Clinton is Carter. There’s ways in which
like we’ve been here before, with you don’t look back, and technology offers us the opportunity
to be scared but it also if unchecked, if we don’t think with the past, we can continue
to reproduce some of the many things that we’re scared of or we have been scared of
in past. Everybody went down for the A bomb project, but everybody was like let’s do it.
Or the government was.>>I guess my question kind of ties back to
what we’re talking about right now and also more directed towards Ani’s work. So just
so there’s the experiment where with the carts where the person would start sweating and
once they found the realization their attitude will change. I guess this is more it’s open
to any answer, I don’t really have specific answer I’m looking for, but what do you guys
think about all of these new technologies and the awareness of surveillance and the
realization of perhaps you’re sweating or this change of vision with someone else, how
does that alter on reality? Does that enhance and give us more broad vision of it? Or does
that neglect a reality, individual reality? I don’t know if that makes sense.
>>It’s a good question. It’s like really broad in some ways too. I guess one of the
first things that popped to my mind is that a lot of times these technologies reveal inherent
biases within ourselves, like, for instance, with surveillance and facial recognition software,
right, like immediately I think it was discovered that computer vision is kind of racist, like
it can’t see some black faces, can’t see some Asian faces where the eye proportions are
not the correct one because often our machine learning datasets are just literally like
datasets of white faces. So it’s interesting because first we become
aware of the surveillance and then we discuss that, but then we even within the surveillance
we dissolve the kind of racial biases we have, right, like in a guess then you could talk
about access and things like that. Surveillance is a difficult one because, for
instance, I had my DNA sequenced or like I gave up a some of my DNA to 23 and me because
I was curious about myself, and also I wanted to know if I had certain like diseases. And
then also I contributed this data so that they could increase their data bank for research.
So it’s like this kind of exchange, right? Like you give things up to Facebook and then
they give somebody back to you. And we are kind of in a dance together. Most people I
think realize this now, right? Like when you buy a membership at we work they track where
you sit and for how long, but then you get like a swanky place to have your investor
meetings. So, I don’t know, I think that we are more aware of it than ever and part of
that is, again, for me, what kind of designs add interesting things to that conversation.
Like how do we increase the awareness and then also almost like playfully turn it on
on its head. Occasionally people use that surveillance or those technologies to benefit
them, and I can’t remember, but like it will come to me, and I’ll share it with you.
>>I mean, we kind of have been talking this better realities and how we sort of grapple
with what it is and what it is not and how we celebrate uncertainty in a way. And it’s
also been discussed that how we as architects sort of have to introduce well, not introduce,
but rethink the role of the like the social and political aspect of it so it’s not just
a discourse of itself but also everything that happens around it. I was kind of thinking
of let’s say, yeah, right now we’re fruitfully having this discussion here in this particular
group, but then let’s say how do you apply this as an architect, let’s say, to a different
group of people? In the third world countries, where how do you live with this uncertainty,
can you afford being uncertain in those kind of circumstances or do you have to sort of
say, okay, well, yes, I do understand that I leave out some things, but those decision
have to be made, like how do you sort of manage in those kind of situations? Not sitting in
an auditorium in Syracuse University?>>The reason I I don’t want to answer this
so it’s going to come back as if I’m pushing back against you and that’s not quite what
it is. No, what communities who are disadvantaged I won’t collapse all of us into one with,
that’s not my point, right, but what I will suggest is in certain ways after World War
II happens there’s a collapse of the metanarrative. Which means for the world itself it’s constantly
living in a state uncertain anxiety, it means what that ultimately entails, right, is exactly
what you’re suggesting, and I’ve had conversations with many of my friends and family members
about this too, like I used to be on the streets protesting for Sandra Bland and we would say
we will win, and I’m sitting here saying this with these folks, with as much conviction
as possible knowing that I’m lying to myself. Because the reality is is that I won’t say
the reality, what we’ve seen in the past is that even the desire for certainty, for from
communities who need certainty, who certainty could do some really great work, it’s either
going to be denied because the world the larger context itself is in crisis or that certainty
will reproduce a series of violences that will produce other uncertainties. So if, for
example, think if we think about the Civil Rights Movement, ’50s and the ’60s, King was
preaching the sermons, but Ella Baker was organizing. And black women were still looking
at black men like you all are a problem, right, because we just forgot about, hey, we got
the lunch counter. Right? And black women were like bro, you know, so there’s a way
in which like even I’m sympathizing want so badly to have certainty, I’m not saying the
desire for certainty is bad, I’m saying the production of it will inevitably, or this
is my perspective on this, will inevitably produce the the production of certainty is
will produce some kind of loss, this violence that we won’t be able to fully sort of deal
with, I think. And that’s probably best way that I can articulate it.
>>So you kind of suggesting that certainty is the goal and uncertainty is the disadvantage?
>>I’m not suggesting, I’m just trying to say that like in this group of people we are
discussing it and most of us agree on how it’s in the long run or right now is more
make more sense to be constantly on the edge of two things. But like there comes those
moments, as I said, especially in like different communities, where you feel like this jumbo
mumbo, like it doesn’t go. You have to people are kind of expecting something from you and
you feel like I mean, like even if you do believe in that, it’s kind of really hard
to reiterate it into something that would make sense to them.
So I’m not saying like I am for certainty or I’m against something. And just like I’m
trying to think of how can you reiterate it in a more populous way.
>>The reason why I ask is because, I mean, uncertainty for me opens up the question of
resilience and kind of adaptability, which I actually think is kind of an advantage to
be at. And certainty is one of those topics that to me don’t really exist. Like so there’s
a experiment that I really like by a French philosopher called Quentin Measau, and he
wrote this very short book called extra science fiction, and he kind of imagines world where
like, for example, accidents are norm. So, you know, we have come to believe in this
scientific reproducibility of certain situations and experiments, and if you can reproduce
a situation scientifically it means it’s real. And these we all know that’s part of like
a historical narrative, which used to not well, used to be different. And so he imagines
what if suddenly accidents become more prevalent than the reproducible situations, are they
kind of expected responses or like, you know, kind of disrupting causality. And in a way
you would also adapt to that you would just it would just a different way of perceiving
reality.>>Can I so I feel you. The thing about it
is I know I won’t say I know exactly what you’re saying, because I’m not you. But I
feel that aspect of impulse. And, yes, we try. The thing is and you do try to produce
certainty. I do say whether or not we will win. Palestinians in this regard, I shouldn’t
go too political, but we’re here now, there is an uncertainty [indiscernible] there is
an uncertainty in these places where uncertainties are happening and those folks who are on the
underside of these things need certainty in order to continue going. It used to be the
promise of the possibility of progress in order for these folks to be inspired.
I absolutely understand that sentiment. Which is why I say we will win. But when we win,
what happens? That’s the question. That’s why I’m like, you’re right, we’re sitting
here in the comfort and luxury of this speculative space where we can ask those questions, but
I’ve looked at the course at least of American history and we win a lot and a lot of folks
die behind that winning. So I’m interested I’m not talking specifically about like white
America here, when the black Civil Rights Movement moved up, black women were left behind,
right? And so there’s a way in which with the black lives matter movement, black queer
folk have been left behind. So winning is happening, certainty is being produced, and
in the wake of that certainty, in the wake of those wins we immediately discard those
things that could not fit within that framework of winning. I’m not pushing against you, I
want certainty as bad as so many other communities do. And I think you’re right, I think that
impulse is necessary. What I’m cautioning is that try your best to do that, knowing
that this is experimentation, King didn’t know he was shading out black women when he
did it, he just it because he thought that was the best move it make, until he realized
that U.S. process couldn’t handle women, because they’re too women to be male and too black
to be white. So he didn’t know he was doing that. So my point is not let’s just completely
throw out certainty at a practical level. In your design you try. And realize in the
wake of that trying somebody is going to be lost.
>>I think one aspects of your question that still hasn’t been addressed is because I don’t
think you’re pushing back against that, I think you’re asking how do we explain that,
how do we make as designers make community that across to other people in a way that
is understandable that people can begin to recognize if you tell a counternarrative to
the main Unesco world heritage story, when you produce that counternarrative what we’re
all agreeing on is in that production there is another narrative marginalized. How do
you get that across to people to understand it? And I actually think Ani’s work is a really
great example of being able to do that. Ani is constantly taking things that should be
certain, science, right, that’s a fact. And she’s flipping it on its head. And she does
it in a way where she has a TED talk about smelfies, it’s in a way there are ways as
designers that you can operate both at an intellectual, academic, institutional level,
it’s really the wrong word, but also in a way that is somehow to do with the making
of the thing itself and the design and the object and the experience of it that is intuitive
enough that it can be communitied to the 14 year old girl on YouTube that’s watching her.
>>[indiscernible] challenge too, like I guess I’m not sure if I have example of where certainty
or sertitude is a corrective force, I think about certain things, dictator ships are certain,
certain types of religious thinking can be very certain. It’s easier to imagine end of
the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. So certain types of economics can be very
certain. And almost all of these certainty produces exclusion, it produces basically
flattens of and I think I appreciate your question about like what’s the where is the
[indiscernible] taken this, like when when the rubber hits the road and facts on the
ground, we will are are to make decisions you can’t sit up here and talk pie in the
sky nonsense, I have to push back and say first of all, show me real certainty, I haven’t
seen it yet. And secondly, I would say your job as a smart person who has been to the
whatever, whatever this room is, and has been challenged with these ideas about Beta Reals
and who has some notion about the instability or the disruptability of a given narrative,
your job then when you leave is precisely to make that understandable to the person
who otherwise would be sucked into the populous movement without ever asking the same question
or the person who is operating under the yolk of certainty. Again you think about why does
the American employment system laugh at Russia? Because the election of Putin was certain.
It’s not an election, because it was certain, we knew it was going to happen. So I would
say you’re totally nailing your assignment. It’s our assignment too, but it’s also your
assignment. Because if you want to accept that there is a mode you can operate in where
everything is certain and all hammers hit all nails all the time, go for it, you just
won’t find it on your team. And Number 2, I think that would be a misuse of what this
school is doing what what this school has shown you but that’s just me.
>>I guess Linda was the only one who actually understood the question
>>I got it as soon as she started talking.>>It wasn’t about me sort of I do share most
of the things that goes on here, but it’s just the question is how do you reiterate
it to speak to bigger masses that sometimes need an answer.
>>It’s a perpetual notion process. Your job is to remind people that there are other people
we’re wiping out in the process of our progress. I don’t know how you design, there are other
people that are but I will say one of the things I’ve done, if this helps at all, I’ve
never designed a building in my life, so I don’t know how this works b you what we consistently
do, I do it in my classes and do it when I’m able to hit the streets is we’re saying black
lives matter, but what about the transgender woman beaten to death in New York six, seven
years ago, we can yell all we want, but reminding folks there’s a cost to that. The goal is
to consistently negotiate and remind folks that you’re very certitude today about the
strength of project might be leaving somebody in the wake. Does that help?
>>Yeah.>>Yeah.
>>I got it as soon as she started to say, Linda, she’s right, we didn’t answer this
question at all, we hype about uncertainty. Sorry about that, man.
>>I guess moving back to Linda, I think that a lot of things that she teaches you in studio
also help. Like affect and narrative, right? Like I think that, for instance, in Hollywood
sometimes when people make really beautiful films it can it always blows my mind when
something appeals to a lot of people but also has very nuanced points. I think a lot of
science fiction did that. So like, you know when you talk about the populous specifically,
yeah, like bring your heavy philosophy with a heavy side of sexiness, entertainment, humor.
Just drop dead gorgeous aesthetics but you can also say really hard things at the same
time. Yeah.>>So I’m just watching the time. And so we
passed 6. I don’t know how strictly we have to watch it. So maybe we’ll take a last question
if there is one. All right.>>[away from mic] maybe this is it doesn’t
there we go. [ Laughter ]
Oh, okay. So maybe this is a question that we don’t want to end on because perhaps it’s
morbid, but also just out of curiosity, what happens to subjectivity and objectivity in
the post [indiscernible] era because it’s this whole reality based around ourselves
now, but and for some reason that just [indiscernible] but like what happens if we’re actually living
in the reality of like the tiger per se, and it doesn’t understand that there’s a subjective
or the objective but maybe it even understands like a third thing that we have no nomenclature
for. So I just am curious what happens at that point in history or even in the present
day.>>Can I say something? If I understand correctly
I think we’ve always been in that space we’ve always been in the it’s just our perception
we haven’t been. So we are already there right now.
>>That’s incredibly sad. [ Laughter ]
>>Yeah, I yeah, I she hit the I mean, the it is and part of it is too is I know people
get frustrated, people make things political all the time, but they happen to be that way.
And the production is a subject is essentially the mind, it’s a mind product, it’s a mind
child of a group of very specific people. It is not the mind child of poor working class
Irish folks. It is not the mind child of women. It is a mind child of elite French and German
thinkers, particularly males who think their subjectivity is the centerpiece of the entire
and we live in the wake of that legacy. So Descartes and all these folks are incredibly
interesting and influential up to and through Heidegger, but the problem is is that there
are groups of folks across the world whether they’re women, poor folks, people from the
east, people in Africa, whether they’re people in developing countries, who live as non who
live as something other than is said not quite human and understand what it means to be not
quite human. And are okay with being not quite human.
Because there’s a beautiful joy, I mean, not quite human produced hip hop. Right? You know,
so there’s something about living in this age that is as hopeful as it is morbid.
>>I guess I could offer some of my favorite female philosopher who’s hit on this, like
Jane Bennett with vibrant matter or Donna Haraway, I don’t want to call it like object
oriented ontology, but like other kinds of ontologies, right? So maybe those would be
good launching points.>>[away from mic]
[ Laughter ]>>[away from mic]
[ Laughter ]>>Now you have to.
>>It was just one more point of reference. Article called the four theses on the climate
of history by Jacobarte, where he basically make the suggestion that if we, like, we had
this 18th, 19th century narrative that tried to formulate subjectivity but it turns out
that that was white male European subjectivity or white male subjectivity, and then we had
this whole subalternate post colonial project that is trying to say, no, there are the lots
of different forms of the way people exist, you can’t you can’t hold them all together
under one sign, he says, okay, we got there, but now the step, the anthropocene step is
we all might do that, that we might all collectively die together when we crank things up past
the 2 degree mark that there’s a point of no return. And suggestions like so okay so
the one thing that it might can do for us is conceptualize a way that we are all collectively
together in something. But that is that collectivity is entirely negative. Like we’re all together
because we might kill ourselves and that let’s talk about morbid ways to end, right, there’s
something but maybe that’s a reference point that to look at, there’s a couple of his articles
that are connected to that. Yeah.>>So on that morbid note, that will be our
ending note. Thank you all so much for being here.
[ Applause ] (Event ended at 6:15 PM.)

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