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Curator of becoming, Artist, Writer, Urban Tiger
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    Re-addressing the story of the ‘I’
    Project: Polytopia
    A Palimpsest Project

    In a late summer afternoon, contemplating the geography of mind, I follow the trails left by questions, point-like collapses scattering semi-stable pieces into thin vapor, only to re-coalesce later on in the growing maze of thought. Never knowing when the architecture will hold to the aggregating wave.

    Questions for a moment materialize as creatures that chaotically weave through our minds, crawling our reflections, intercepting thoughts, opening and closing windows, bursting activity; but, if to extrapolate, what do Questions ‘want’?

    In an eerie shimmer it seems as clear as it is paradoxical, Questions ‘want’ a self. Questions, before anything else, request the installation of thought and make necessary the production of ‘a mind’ - a momentary instance carrying the option for long duration. Live questions are doors to existence, pumping quiescent matter into visibility.

    Questions are agents of future selves. To utter a question is to engage with the poietic of self, to utter a question is to subscribe to a society of singularities.

    The Century of the Self

    In his 2002, 4 part documentary series ‘The Century of the Self’ Adam Curtis explores the junction between philosophical themes such as the primacy of human will, the consequences of Freud theory of the self and the rise of modern economics.

    Curtis, unfolds an interesting tale about how the Individual space at its modern beginning, was high-jacked by the political and economical system of the first half of the 20th century into being the all-consuming self, whose presence too well characterizes the crisis punctuating our days.

    He questions the theme upon which the individual is constituted; pointing out that the malleability of man is being played into the hands of the ‘Corporate’ and of a linearly measured interest. Our adaptable self and our hailed individuality have become, in less than fifty years, tools for social control.

    Curtis along the footage asks again and again, what is the reality of self, if it gives itself so easily to be high-jacked and manipulated into a simulacrum? How do we account for the invasion of the ‘Corporate’ into the space so confidently suggested by the individual sign?

    To my understanding, these questions support a direct gaze into a core problem of the contemporary human – that of being an entity that lacks a “suiting” Self.

    A human in our society is described as a clear entity, a recognized individual (at least legally and commercially), who finds itself facilitated with an ever-increasing accessibility to new dimensions of producing objects of identity. Yet this same individual is lacking the arch of singularities that emerge with depth.

    The self of the contemporary human, more often than not, does not manage to bridge the gaps in ‘realness’ that the current shifts in technologies and realities are bringing about, and under multiple overload threats it retreats to ‘surfing’ upon an unquestioned, thinner and thinner level of interaction.

    Only 10 years after Curtis’ century of the self and a new Mini-Series – Black Mirror, choose trauma (instead of nostalgia) as a strategy to respond to the collapse of the self.

    This three part Mini-Series created by Charlie Brooker is addressing as if a simple equation: the more technology (and mediation) is in use, the less substantial is the self.

    One cannot look away from the possible implications of such an equation, would it turn out to be the case. We have to ask the questions, and at least propose few answers as we accompany technology in its migration closer and deeper into our flesh, and a techno-culture is reshaping us beyond what we care to admit.

    The nest of the future is in our daily present, in how we handle our moments of passage.

    Could we reclaim the space suggested by the ‘individual’ sign, away from the existing patterns of partial affirmation (and corporate policy) and into a space of open iteration, a space of significant questions?

    How to re-start the poietic of the self?

    Readdressing The Story of the I

    The story of the ‘I”, this non communicable experience of being, is stretched across our history, punctuated through stations of development, co-evolving with technology and culture, reshaping its contour upon the gap between community and individuals and always, but always, rebelling against history.

    In her video work Paralyzed from 2003, Klara Lidén performs a dance in an underground train; it is a short video (3:50 min) and there is absolutely nothing extraordinary in it, not the frames, not the gestures nor the dynamics in the train and yet from the first moment it is clear that it is the real thing. (The relevant frames are 5:27 to 6:55 )

    Portrait d'artiste - KLARA LIDÉN from KLIKON on Vimeo.

    The ‘thing’ about this work is that she fully speaks with her body. Her political and artistic act is fully articulated through simple and spontaneous body movements. She is not judging, not speaking morality, not embodying anarchic dance, it is not a smart-ass cubical intelligence at the edge of contemporary something.

    It is however a performance of a Body, surrounded by history and culture, by time and space, by noise and everydayness, a Body that finds itself in the act of recreating itself, carving through such an act an existential space and a fleeting freedom.

    Klara linden provides a straight line of insight into the story of the ‘I’; the ‘I’ is always surrounded by history, be it the urban system, the social rules or the present techno-culture. In this perspective the ‘I’ has no other choice but to play according to a black-and-white game; it is either being stirred around by the history that surrounds it, or to move history.

    A simple, almost modest clarity, is emerging viewing her work, which is antecedent to labels and categories; The story of the ‘I” in all of its compositions and styles, at core, is a story of an intense rumbling substance.

    Matching the reality of the Self, endows with the ability (almost like magic) to uncoil wings as organic sleeves, allowing this rumbling substance to emerge and temporarily undo the inevitable thickness of history.

    That Which Minds do Beside All The Rest

    Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye unfolds the attempt to escape the world of the possible and sensible, and to engage with the effort of articulating the impossible.

    It is a brave poetry that uses synaesthetic language to disrupt the stable sense of subjectivity. A poetry, trying to avoid the battle between Art and text, sensation and language, between relations and categories, a direct poetry of engagement with that which is beyond the politics of freedoms and constraints.

    It is an honest effort of being engaged with ‘path finding’, not of a particular path, not of a particular finding, but rather, of freeing path finding from everything that surrounds and systematizes it.

    I understand Bataille’s literature and Klara Liden art as a “Labor”, the labor of the mind, or that which minds do beside all the rest.

    A mind in labor ‘appropriates’ the “I” as a seed ‘space’ – in terms of available resources for morphing a grain universe. Neither a given reality nor an affirmed identity may take precedence upon this, for whenever identity is the center of the “I”, the space suggested by the individual sign is occupied and useless from the standpoint of labor.

    That which a mind in labor does beside all the rest, is sculpting a space of narration (the I) into an evolving narrative, by that providing unoccupied (or re-occupied) grounds for becoming.

    Narratives are the suspended bridges of the self, crossing over while reformulating in mid air, projecting anchors in times yet to be formed, growing with labor into a poietic machine of becoming.

    Each narrative thus emerging is an edge between nodes, which were previously disconnected, possibly invisible, changing both the local experience and the global sense.

    Such narratives are both intimate and openly exposed, and most importantly they alter the space between the individual and the many and the existing options to carve an “I”, a new story of the ‘I’ within such gap.

    I AM STILL ALIVE # art

    The artist On Kawara sent already 2521 tweets to his friends with the same ‘repetitive’ line - I AM STILL ALIVE #art, and yet, there is nothing repetitive in its ‘artistic’ act.

    Since January 4, 1966 he has made a long series of "Date paintings" (the Today series), which consist entirely of the date of the day on which the painting was executed in simple white lettering set against a solid background.

    The work of On Kawara is a consistent addressing of the story of the ‘I’, we see a self that is simultaneously almost absent in the particularities of expression, and yet stands with the little it has in front of vastness.

    A self that exists confronting the reflection of a time endlessly flowing, from before its existence and long after, a space which is virtually infinite and more than it can basically imagine or grasp. A self that lives in a world with billions newspaper, trillions bits of information and indefinite versions of knowledge we shall never know.

    The ‘labor’ of intensification of a mind produces a self that puts for a second, and maybe more, that vastness to silence - That is for a fleeting moment the content of the world.

    The infinitesimally gentle act of On Kawara upon the background noise weaves unseen lines of departures, from a seemingly unshakable present, into not yet visible narratives. At each bifurcation made visible, questions emerge, marking the possible difference right there and bringing agency to future. No present is unshakable, nor need it be.

    Re-opening the poietic of the self

    In our historical impressions the ‘I’ emerges as the prime and distinct actor upon reality. Yet today while beholding its apotheosis of potency, it is crisis and collapse that surrounds us, and possibly a Meta-leap, in the ability and substance of the self to confront an increasingly complex and accelerating reality.

    Streaming through these pages is the necessity to expose the quest for essential change in the dynamics defining the ‘I’, as a pivotal factor in building the possibility to match the gap of realities defining our world.

    From the standpoint of aesthetics, before being an actor the “I” is a space, a seed-space of action-ability. More than ever, a space, to be carved empty. Empty of itself. That we may escape once and for all the neurosis of being constantly occupied with repetitive forms of ourselves. Empty of crystallized history that we may reclaim the substance of narration.

    Once freed, the “I” provides the space of action-ability where to initiate systematic hacking into the nonchalant indifference of existence. A space infiltrating reality by threads of intensities, fractally distributing influence upon multiplying surfaces of interaction, exchanging openly yet without dismissing intricacy.

    In the realization of the present the ‘I’ emerges as a placeholder, bridging agency across the eruption of multiple aesthetic avatars, a seam of continuous bifurcations where curation of becoming takes place.

    Time to free the individual sign from its monolithic history of identity, departing into soft space of action-ability where the correspondence between self and aesthetic is indeed transient, restless and critical. A singular and continuously temporary installation of thought in interaction. Works of art are sometimes a direct and intimate blow-up of the tension between open-endedness to a dense core. The “I” is a weaving space of that story.


    Palimpsest usually refers to a manuscript or a document upon which more than one writing have been superimposed on effaced earlier writing, sometimes more than once. Historically it indicates something bearing the traces of a succession of forms in time. Frequently it's difficult to say which layer was first inscribed. The name Palimpsest is used here as a metaphor for an exploration of the possibility of superimposed minding.

    The palimpsest project is written by Xaos, Starwalker


    Image 1 - Complexity Graphics By Tatiana Plakhova
    Image 2 – Suzanne Anker MRI Butterfly (5)
    Image 3 – Still Photo from Paralyzed from 2003, Klara Lidén
    Image 4 - Today Series – On Kawara
    Image 5 – Complexity Graphics By Tatiana Plakhova

    Mon, Sep 10, 2012  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Polytopia
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