Built with Indexhibit
# 1: FICHTE´S ABSOLUTE I
Fichte's absolute I contains all reality; it is everything, & outside it there is nothing; therefore for this absolute I there is no object, for otherwise all reality would not be in it. But a consciousness without an object is not conceivable, and if I myself am this object then as such I am necessarily limited, even if only in time, and therefore not absolute. Therefore no consciousness is conceivable in the absolute I, as an absolute I I have no consciousness, and insofar as I have no consciousness I am (for myself) nothing, therefore the absolute I is (for me) nothing.
# 2: THEORY & PRACTICE
What is the relation between theory and practice? The abstract character of theory – the lack of concrete application, the absence of manifest exemplification, the lack of “real” – could be (and often is) used as an argument of its inferior position compared to practice. If an abstract thought can't be translated into concrete realisation it doesn't belong to this world and thus is disregarded. This especially applies for art education, where theory often is understood as the opposite – maybe even oponent – to craft.
But the abstraction is the very virtue of theory. Craft and competence is what gives me access to an artistic practice, but simultaneously define the limits of my imagination – I won't get ideas that my toolbox can't translate into practice. Exactly because in theory I am not restricted to what my craftbased toolbox allows me to realise, my imagination can wander into possibilities and objectives not existing within the frame of my knowhow. And objectives accessible and anchored in theory also opens passage to alternative sets of tools and quality criteria to guide my work.
In our daily practice we are constantly met with the demand to deliver manifest art works, only the result of working hours that can re-appear in the field and economy of art gives me a continued access to my profession. Where if not on the artistic education should the potential of not-yet existing artist objectives, practices and quality criterias be developed? Given this perspective, the increasing demand on higher art education to sign a contract of hireability with its students – i.e. to educate in the tools and competences needed to operate smoothly on the existing market – continuously undermines the very fundament of artistic education.
# 3: THE ART OBJECT – AN AESTHETIC POSITION BETWEEN PAST AND THE FUTURE
The way I see it, art is ultimately the use of aesthetic interventions to negotiate the present as a position oscillating between the past and the future. Poetics in this figure of thought can be understood as the rhythm of a coming and going of things, opening up our presence to all that what can only present itself as asbsence. This is how art becomes a fundamental practice in the production of collective imaginaries. Without this function, the present becomes an immanent continuum, projecting and simultanenously reproducing itself into the future.
Whether it presents itself as performance, image or sound, the art object in this context is "a thing that gathers"; an aesthetic proposal that initiates and demands a negotiation and conversation. The organisation and mediation of this negotiation, as well as the accumulation of the knowledge and subjectivity produced, is the task I would claim defines an institution. The instition thus is an organisation not only for the production and distribution of art, but even more importantly needs to understand its logic as an instituent process, i.e. an apparatus pointing to the future. This, however, is only possible as a continuous movement between what-is-no-longer and what-is-not-yet.
If the smooth, frictionless circulation of information is a quality specific for the network – thus making it the typical mode of organisation for a neoliberal capitalism – gravity and sedimentation could be understood as characteristics for the institution. Contrary to the traditional critique of the institution as a conservative and inflexible body I think this is one of its most important qualities. If one of the basic conditions for politics is the negotiation of the present as a position oscillating between the past and a possible future, then the institution is a necessary structure for the organisation of this process. For me, the art institution thus is an apparatus where our aesthetic ideas and thoughts of the present are negotiated with the art we did last year as well as with how we vision it to be in five years from now. Without this function of stickiness, where artistic work and experience is sedimented as context and knowledge, we have no means of the specificity and implementation necessary to form subjectivity, and our work is rendered generic and politically impotent.
The institution as we know it is constitutionally bound to the national state. This notion, based on the narrative of a specific essence connected to national identities, today is obviously outdated (any attempt to build a political or aesthetic project on national identities will result in nostalghia and most often fascism). But even if it is easy to dismiss the national state as narrative, no contemporary concept for how to understand the task and logic of the institution has been introduced as a valid alternative. The institution today therefore is a structure that has no idea of what task and objectives it is supposed to respond to. What could be the objectives and foundation for a contemporary/future institution?
# 4: ARTISTIC RESEARCH, pt I – COLONIALIZATION OF THE UNKNOWN
The tradition of knowledge production and its production coincides with – and is inscribed in – the history of colonial economy. This history follows the narrative where waste foreign continents full of crude raw material lay dorment, waiting to be discovered, conquered and capitalized by means of refinement. This is how the universities and academies were constituted, built and developed, and this is how western economy was produced in a continuous process where value is produced by shaping the chaos of formerly unknown, purposeless materia – cotton, ore, oil, slaves – into concepts with specific field of application and measurable usevalues.
In the contemporary global economy, as we know, the capitalism of industrial economy is no longer understood as the main engine. If the conceptualisation of iron ore into steel used to be the figure of value-production, our contemporary raw material is knowledge and immaterial values as information, attention and relations. In this context, it cannot be by chance that artistic research is invented and given value as a legit field of academic knowledge production. What does this suggest?
Today, the immaterial unknown is the new frontier to be conquered and capitalized. In the hype of notions as “the anthropocene”, artistic research projects investigating and conceptualising the unrefined raw immaterials of whatever lies beyond our human horizon, appropriating and capitalizing them as measurable value units in the form of dissertations on radical alterities as “posthumanism” and “non-human performance”. The very fact that it is possible, in a context well educated in postcolonial theory, to use the term “non-human” for something unknown should make us suspicious (non-human as academic concept is as appropriating as calling a woman “non-man” or a muslim “non-christian”). The translation of the unknown into known and valorised concepts as the main momentum of knowledge production thus follows the logic of colonial re-cuperation, where the illness and/or lack inherent to an interior organism is compensated by the colonialisation of an exterior entity. What does this mean for the recent introduction of artistic research as academic field?
# 5: ARTISTIC RESEARCH, pt II – THE CONTAINER TRANSFORMED INTO PIPELINE
Unlike its material predecessor, immaterial primary products of a valueproduction centered around knowledge, creativity, attention and experience does not obey the narrative of national identity. Thus, the institutions built to organise the creation and negotiation of this identity today find themselves left without their constitutional definition and task. National theatres, museums, libraries, archives and universities, all the institutions that once were established to govern the process in which collective memory and possible futures were negotiated in a common present, with the downfall of the national narrative have gradually been transformed into facilitators of re-presentations of the present as omnipotent presence.
The nation was the unifying entity of the 18th-20th century economy, and the institutions an apparatus for preservation, a container providing the gravity needed to tie the redundance to the framework of the national state. In the 21st century the free flow of information, creative capital, networks, subejctivity and indidual experience is the general objective and guiding principle for their contemporary heirs. Thus, the difference in function between a City Theatre and Instagram, between a contemporary museum and the Eiffeltower, a university and Wikipedia, is gradually disappearing. What used to be institutions – the organised production of common ground and public space – today is factories without any program or function that could be understood as a public task. This obviously is a political problem – after all, the biggest institutional ship wreck is the political institution – but that is not the main concern in this context.
If the contemporary purpose of institutions is frictionless mediation of information and experience, then what task does this leave for artistic research? Why does the rise of artistic research as field and practice coincide with the downfall of the institution? If the contemporary theatre can reproduce experience as spectacle, but not produce art, and the artistic educations can provide hireable facilitators for this reproduction but whether artists or the conditions for research, then where does the artistic research – that by definition can not have a pre-figured outcome or capitalisation – take place?
One problematic aspect of this is that artistic research has become the common denominator of all that we can't fit into the daily production of an education, theatre or museum. It is whatever leftover that we know should be considered important, but still is missing when the whole equation is done. This in turn might be a symptom of a more profoundly critical condition. If the purpose of the institution built on the colonial economy of the national state was a vessel; a container providing a gravity field fixating memory and valueproduction to the central narrative of a national identity, then today's institution have become pipelines, hubs in a network operating in the logic of accelerated circulation of the present.
Which is where we return to the initial Höderlin-quote: human consciousness, and its capacity of reflection, is produced in an oscillation between a subjectivity and objects outside of the subject. In this understanding, both knowledge and poiesis is only conceivable with the introduction of an autonomous object external to the subject; it is the resistance of this external object – its refusal of appropriation and measurable incorporation – that makes knowledge possible. Thus the slick, siliconed circulation of creative capital pipelined through the networks and exchange structures that are the hard currency for contemporary educational programs as well as presenting venues and/or festivals – in spite of their frequent use of terminologies based on research, knowledge production and reflection – result in a free flow where the present is re-produced and re-presented as a continuum of its own infinite, limitless appearance.
# 6: INSTITUTION & AESTHETIC EDUCATION: ORGANISATION OF POIESIS
Unformulated thought: Poiesis as the condition for production rather than re-production. Kant's concept of disinterested spectator as the condition for poiesis. Possible concept for a contemporary (para)institutional structure for the organisation of poiesis: a gravitational vessel based on Hölderlin's concept of Keppler's orbital excentricity, where the orbit is no longer circular (as in Copernicus) but an ellipse, where the trajectory reacting on the gravity of not one but two central points: a known point of gravity and one unknown.