What is the Nihilism in which we have seen the root of the Revolution of the modern age? The answer, at first thought, does not seem difficult; several obvious examples of it spring immediately to mind. There is Hitler’s fantastic program of destruction, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Dadaist attack on art; there is the background from which these movements sprang, most notably represented by several “possessed” individuals of the late nineteenth century–poets like Rimbaud and Baudelaire, revolutionaries like Bakunin and Nechayev, “prophets” like Nietzsche; there is, on a humbler level among our contemporaries, the vague unrest that leads some to flock to magicians like Hitler, and others to find escape in drugs or false religions, or to perpetrate those “senseless” crimes that become ever more characteristic of these times. But these represent no more than the spectacular surface of the problem of Nihilism. To account even for these, once one probes beneath the surface, is by no means an easy task; but the task we have set for ourselves in this chapter is broader: to understand the nature of the whole movement of which these phenomena are but extreme examples.
Deleuze’s main philosophical project in his early works (i.e., those prior to his collaborations with Guattari) can be baldly summarized as a systematic inversion of the traditional metaphysical relationship between identity and difference. Traditionally, difference is seen as derivative from identity: e.g., to say that “X is different from Y” assumes some X and Y with at least relatively stable identities. To the contrary, Deleuze claims that all identities are effects of difference. Identities are neither logically nor metaphysically prior to difference, Deleuze argues, “given that there exist differences of nature between things of the same genus.” That is, not only are no two things ever the same, the categories we use to identify individuals in the first place derive from differences. Apparent identities such as “X” are composed of endless series of differences, where “X” = “the difference between x and x’”, and “x” = “the difference between…”, and so forth. Difference goes all the way down. To confront reality honestly, Deleuze claims, we must grasp beings exactly as they are, and concepts of identity (forms, categories, resemblances, unities of apperception, predicates, etc.) fail to attain difference in itself. “If philosophy has a positive and direct relation to things, it is only insofar as philosophy claims to grasp the thing itself, according to what it is, in its difference from everything it is not, in other words, in its internal difference.”
I Love Art, You Love Art, We All Love Art, This is Love. Een pamflet over de kunstwereld door Frank van de Veire
I am back from the death and on the way to the parting under the sound of the thousand cameras. Click click click…
Jan Fabre, Angel of Death
‘In de 21ste eeuw schreeuwt de kunst de slapers wakker.’ Deze zin staat op een kaart die een tijd geleden werd rondgestuurd door het SMAK, ondergetekend: Sas van Rouveroij, Eerste Schepen. Op de achterkant van de kaart een foto van het befaamde kunstenaarskoppel Abramovic en Ulay dat elkaar van heel dichtbij in het gezicht schreeuwt. De kaart richt zich ongetwijfeld niet tot degenen die nog wakker geschreeuwd moet worden, maar tot degenen die al wakker zijn. Alleen zij kunnen immers begrijpen dat ‘kunst de slapers wakker schreeuwt’. Al wie de kaart in de bus krijgt voelt zich meteen behoren tot de wakkeren die aan de kant van de kunst staan, niet tot degenen die tot op de dag van vandaag nog steeds niet wakker zijn en dus nog moeten worden wakker geschreeuwd. – Gelukkig dat wij al lang de wakkere vrienden van de kunst zijn. Gelukkig dat wij de kunst niet meer nodig hebben om te ontwaken. Wij zijn immers al wakker en de tijd dat wij ooit door de kunst werden wakker geschreeuwd is zo veraf dat wij er ons niets meer van kunnen herinneren. Maar wij houden toch nog van de ontroerende aanblik van al die mensen die staan aan te schuiven om door de kunst te worden wakker geschreeuwd en zich, de slaap uit de ogen wrijvend, langzaam aan braafjes bij ons voegen. Ze geven ons het warme gevoel dat kunst nodig is. Zij geven gestalte aan ons geloof in de kunst. Wij, de wakkeren, kijken elkaar vol verstandhouding aan. Neen, de kunst schreeuwt ons niet wakker, zij herinnert ons aan onze wakkerheid. Zij knipoogt naar ons en wij knipogen terug. Dat is wel een beetje een saaie boel, maar het vervult ons toch met tevredenheid. – ‘Wij hebben het geluk ontdekt, zeggen de laatste mensen, en knipogen.’ (Nietzsche, Zarathoestra)
Kritiek als fetisj, of: zolang we maar blijven praten
over kunst in onzekere tijden. Met bijdragen van: Guus Beumer, Cornel Bierens, Ole Bouman, Lex ter Braak, Koen Brams, Valentijn Byvanck, Chris Dercon, Sjarel Ex, Gitta Luiten, Geert Mul, Wouter de Nooy, Ineke Schwartz, Anna Tilroe en Rutger Wolfson.
Uitgeverij Prometheus / De Vleeshal
Jeremy Rifkin: “Het materiële heeft afgedaan. Niet goederen, maar concepten en ideeën zijn de werkelijk waardevolle artikelen in de nieuwe economie. Daardoor ontstaat een ander type mens.” Het lijken haast wel de woorden van een conceptueel kunstenaar uit de jaren zestig of zeventig, maar toch gesproken door een vooraanstaand econoom en tevens voorzitter van Foundation on Economic Trends. Rifkin stelt verder: “We leven in een wereld waarin de culturele sfeer in de commerciële sfeer is getrokken, en is gemodificeerd tot panklare culturele ervaringen, commerciële massaschouwspelen en massavermaak.
Frank Vande Veire
De moderne filosofie heeft iets met kunst. Zowat alle belangrijke filosofen, te beginnen bij Kant, hebben zich intensief met kunst ingelaten. Van veertien van hen wordt de kunstopvatting uitvoerig uiteengezet. Het zijn: Kant, Schiller, Schelling, Hölderlin, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Benjamin, Bataille, Adorno, Blanchot, Freud, Lacan en Derrida.
No Subject is an online archive and encyclopedia of information related to Lacanian psychoanalysis. It is a collaborative project updated by an active and growing community of users.Join us in making our site better and better! For help getting started, please visit our new Community Forum. If you have any questions, you can post them there or use our new contact form.
The most obvious departure the video image makes from its cinematic cousin is that it can be instantly available: recording and broadcasting can be simultaneous, and this technological possibility has offered a wide variety of uses from broadcast television to remote sensing, from the proliferation of security and surveillance cameras in the urban environment to various artistic experiments.
I’ll take Dan Graham as a useful point of departure to discuss the latter, not because he was unique—many artists undertook similar explorations in the 1970s—but because he can serve to index this trajectory. I’ll begin by reading a piece from Graham’s book Video-Architecture-Television. He writes:
Video is a present-time medium. Its image can be simultaneous with its perception by/of its audience (it can be an image of its audience perceiving). The space/time it presents is continuous, unbroken and congruent to that of the real time which is the shared time of its perceivers… This is unlike film which is, necessarily, an edited representation of the past of another reality… for separate contemplation by unconnected individuals. Film is discontinuous, its language constructed, in fact, from syntactical and temporal disjunctions (for example, montage). Film is a reflection of a reality external to the spectator’s body; the spectator’s body is out of frame. In a live video situation, the spectator may be included in frame at one moment or be out of frame at another moment. Film constructs a “reality” separate and incongruent to the viewing situation; video feeds back indigenous data in the immediate, present-time environment or connects parallel time-space continua. Film is contemplative and “distanced”; it detaches a viewer from present reality and makes him [sic] a spectator. (Graham, p. 62)
Clearly what Graham is describing is a particular possibility rather than a necessary consequence of video technology. In his own work he used this possibility to undertake series of experiments into space, architecture, perception and memory. For instance, he constructed rooms which staged contrasts between direct perception, mirror reflections, live video and delayed video.
Describing the piece Present Continuous Past(s) (1974), Graham wrote:
The mirror reflects present time. The video camera tapes what is in front of it and the entire reflection of the opposite mirrored wall. The image seen by the camera (reflecting everything in the room) appears 8 seconds later in the video monitor.
This means that the camera will tape the reflected image of the monitor, setting up an infinite regress of time continuums (always separated by an eight second delay). Further:
The mirror at right-angles to the other mirror-wall and to the monitor wall gives a present time view of the installation as if observed from an objective vantage exterior to the viewer’s subjective experience… It simply reflects present time.
Graham also made a series of “time delay” rooms. In Time Delay Room 1 (1974), spectators in room A could see those in room B live on one monitor and on an eight second delay on the other, while those in room B could see audience A live and themselves on delay. Spectators could walk between the two rooms, which was timed to take about eight seconds. These time delay rooms constituted a series of quasi-psycho-sociological experiments in which Graham used live video as a tool to explore consciousness. His project is reminiscent of Dziga Vertov’s 1929 film The Man With The Movie Camera which used cinematic reflexivity to similar ends. Graham was particularly interested in the relationship of consciousness to philosophies of reflection and transparency. Interestingly, while his writings often seem to accept the equivalence of perception with self-presence, his experiments point elsewhere—to the continual implication of so-called “direct perception” with the deferred effects of memory. In this way, he cross-hatches phenomenology with a more psychoanalytic perspective. While I find his rooms fascinating, I must admit that I also find them rather unnerving—they seem too close to all those contemporary spaces dominated by surveillance cameras. (And, of course surveillance video footage is increasingly appearing as art in a gallery context.)
Graham’s idea of using video as part of a closed system or feedback loop was common to many artists—Gary Hill has been quoted as saying “Video’s intrinsic principle is feedback.” (Hill, 1993, p. 65) It fitted in nicely with the rise of systems theory and cybernetics being advanced by those such as Norbert Weiner at the time. It also marked a time when the idea of participatory art started to be channelled towards interactive art—a term which has been such a buzz word in the 1990s. In video works by artists such as Nam June Paik, the presence of the audience—whether as an image registered on a monitor, or as a sound event reproduced through an electronic feedback system—began to play an increasingly important role in providing the content and shaping the experience of the art work.
Paik also constructed some of the most hauntingly beautiful examples of video as feedback; for instance the various versions of his TV Buddha. Here the enigmatic relation between the immediacy of the live image and the materiality of the object is brought to a pitch. The Buddha, who sought to keep himself free from all external impressions by immersing himself in mystic contemplation, sits confronted by his own image. The resulting ambivalence in the status of both object and image reminds me of Maurice Blanchot’s suggestion that there are at least two interpretations of the imaginary, the realm of images. (Blanchot, 1982, 254-263) There is the ordinary interpretation, according to which the image follows the order of reality as its mirror or re-presentation. But there is also the path where the image points to the absent thing, not by a strategy of mastery but by evoking its presence as absence. What Blanchot underlines—and what Paik’s Buddha confirms—is that, in fact, there is no either/or choice between these two possibilities—faced with the image, we always experience an ambivalent mixture of presence and absence.