As contemporary artistic practice has become ever more polymorphous and multispatial, large scale exhibitions have accommodated a wider array of emerging nonmodern epistemologies, materialities, and temporalities ‘in the middle’ (Latour, 1993, 47). As a critical means of considering contemporary art’s homologous non-modern, this paper refracts two influential global exhibitions of contemporary art – dOCUMENTA (13) and Il Palazzo Encyclopedia – through the lens of Medievalisms Studies. Medievalisms Studies’ challenge to the ‘simplified binarization of premodernacts and modern identities’ (Fradenburg, 1997, 213) invites deeper scrutiny of contemporary art’s knowledges, materialities, and chronopolitics. Developing the medievalist analogies of the compendium and the relic, I focus on specific exempla presented within the curatorial frameworks of two key biennale that offer a macro-cosmic discourse on contemporary art’s developing relations with knowledges, materials, and time. In unfolding anachronic materialist narratives, a nonmodern sensibility promised to liberate emerging art from the social constructivist paradigms that still dominate contemporary art. As a corollary of their nonmodern materialist epistemologies, the biennale that form my exempla also attempted to (dis)place the practices they curated through a polytemporality in which now-and-then and here-and-there areintertwined.
MInTOone80Five (NOT Clickbait!) (2019)
Confraternity of Neoflagellants
A swampscape commission from Most Dismal Swamp
Features in Most Dismal Swamp 002: Whale Fall
Launch 29th March 2019, London
Whale Fall curated by Most Dismal Swamp
@baojiaxiang, Scrabulous Anomaly in the Re-write Department, Confraternity of Neoflagellants, Department of Decay, Lewis Den Hertog, Plastique Fantastique, Bianca Hlywa, AGF HYDRA, Marija Bozinovska Jones with MBJ Wetware, Natalia Janula, Alexandra Koumantaki, Peter Lee, Christopher Macinnes, Piano Princess, Hannah Rose Stewart, Marta Stražičić, Tea Stražičić, Theo Triantafyllidis, Jennifer Walton.
Whale Fall is the carcass of a fetid dataset by 19 artists working across digital media, installation, performance, fashion, music, film and theory-fiction. At Gossamer Fog, it is remixed and presented as a site-specific film installation.
It is a project by Most Dismal Swamp, an experimental art platform and record label simulating and exploring a contemporary ecology that has come to be defined by the hallucinatory entanglement of multiple logics, systems, temporalities, and realities: a mixed-reality paradigm; a pervasive, horizonless swampscape.
Whale Fall focuses on the diverse bodies emerging from and inhabiting this ‘swampscape’, and how they might pose challenges to orthodox conceptions of personhood, intelligence, corporeality, and life. Do these categories perhaps even harbour assumptions that erase difference and confine the possibility-space of human social, ethical, technological, intellectual, political development? In other words, might an uneven and combined heresy (a revision of the human) possibly emerge from the somatic mutations and social transformations native to the swampscape?
A version of Whale Fall can be watched online at www.mostdismalswamp.com. And a digital release of the music by Jennifer Walton featured in Whale Fall, entitled Winged // Dislocated will also be available via Most Dismal Swamp and across all major streaming platforms.
This exhibition has been made with support from Arts Council England.
Most Dismal Swamp is a mixed-reality biome, an art platform, a multi-scalar mystic fiction, a forecasting laboratory, a long tail, a transitional ecosystem, a party, a cognitive scaffold, a bad dataset, a curatorial MMORPG, a memeplex aggregator, a planetary weirding studio, and a record label.
It is a model for parsing, navigating, and elaborating a Dank Enlightenment: globally variable synaesthesia across multiple and simultaneous dimensions.
“If art can be said to reflect the conditions of the world in which it is made, art that engages with the vanguard technology of an era can perhaps be said to have a particular purchase on contemporaneous visions of the arc of the future.” Chris Wiley, Beginnings + Ends (post-net art), frieze, Issue 159, Nov-Dec 2013.
We will perform Mobilitas Loci (Muller Ltd.) a multimedia audio-visual work. As neomedievalist artists based in Scotland and Québec, our collaborative work is often fabricated mid-Atlantic in a cloud-workshop using freeware. Where much post-net art tends to rework the forward-thinking modern/postmodern collectives of the 1960s and ‘70s, neomedieval artistic practice adopts ‘backward-thinking’, to identify and develop possible ‘premodern futures’ through a visceral, indulgent, lavish, liturgical and ludic materialism. Given its non-modern condition, contemporary artistic practice has as much in common with the guilds of the middle ages as it does with the avant-garde of the 20th century.
Set in a contemporary passion park, Mobilitas Loci (Muller Ltd.) entangles a number of medieval sources (from the Bestiary of Philippe de Thaon to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs) with the work of living and fictitious artists, knowledge-architects, Ponzi schemers, and philosophers (e.g. Alexandr Petrovsky, Amanda Beech, Ray Brassier, Adam Toffler, www.bobsacamano.dr). The A/V work takes the form of a bestiary entry on the dog-head Muller Ltd., a quasi-human protagonist in our theory-fiction thN Lng Folk 2 Go: Investigating Future Premoderns™ (Punctum, 2013). It is performed in a mixture of middle and modern Scots and middle American mall talk and includes cover versions of electronic voice phenomena recordings of the medieval dead and moving images of Muller Ltd.
Unexpected Encounters with Deep Time: Enchantment
Thursday, 26th November 2015
Andrew Grant Lecture Theatre, Evolution House, West Port, Edinburgh College of Art
Organised by the Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network
Earlier this year the discovery of homo naledi propelled enchantment into a framework of deep time. The speculation is that early human ancestors, perhaps from as much as 4 million years ago, may have ritually buried their dead in the dark Rising Star caves. The questions of when, where and for whom the world first appeared as enchanted have abruptly shifted from the 200,000 or so years of homo sapiens into a much longer past. Elsewhere, the deep future of enchantment can be gleaned from discussions around the future of nuclear waste. Will future descendants still be enchanted by this ‘new immortal’? If so how do present humans protect them from their own curiosity when conventions of communication are so closely embedded within shallow time? Looking closely at the implications of these questions reveal cracks in the shell of human exceptionalism. After all the questions around nuclear waste are often accompanied by the caveat that these descendants we seek to protect may no longer be human. Yet enchantment is a concept tied to the core of the humanities. Stories of the loss of disenchantment remain central to definitions of modernity and the rise of secularism, and enchantment’s return, via claims of the rise of religious fundamentalism, is central to contemporary geopolitics. Within environmental literatures enchantment has been seen as a way of mobilising ethical responses on an increasingly damaged planet (e.g. Abram; Bennet) and critiqued for contributing to the forgetting of countless ‘unloved others’ (Rose & van Dooren).
Our series focus on ‘unexpected encounters with deep time’ emphasises the way that deep time is encountered in materiality of the everyday. Likewise Jane Bennet has stressed that enchantment arises, unanticipated, in the moment, in the “active engagement with objects of sensuous experience” (5).
The aim of this workshop is to explore what enchantment might become within a framework of deep time. We hope to explore questions such as:
- How might deep time and enchantment reframe or challenge each other?
- How are their ties to the everyday world to be understood?
- How might deep time trouble the humanist frame within which enchantment has primarily been situated?
- How might it disturb current understandings of the promises and perils of enchantment for environmental thought and action?
- What are the political and ethical implications, positive or negative, of ‘enchanting’ deep time?
- How might deep time queer the temporalities of enchantment (cf Burlein & Orr)?
4th BIENNIAL MEETING OF THE BABEL WORKING GROUP
Centre for Medieval Studies, Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen’s Park, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
DAY 3: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11
Un/Session 6. Mash Notes
Co-Organizers: Helen Burgess (North Carolina State University) + Craig J. Saper (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Flâneur: David Gersten
*This un/session will run all day Sunday, Oct. 11 in the Great Hall, Centre for Medieval Studies, The University of Toronto, Canada.
We have long participated in signed or anonymous declarations of love and desire. Adderall 30mg even in our neoliberal institutions, peculiarly bloodless forms remain: the corporate pitch meeting, the grant proposal warped by our understanding of what the other (funding agencies) “wants.” Screw that. As Roland Barthes declares, “What love lays bare in me is energy.” This will be an online/offline un-session conducted all day Sunday, Oct. 11 in the Great Hall, Centre for Medieval Studies, featuring participants entering into the lover’s discourse, with documents both electrical and tactile. Updates and online components of this session will be found HERE.
- Helen J Burgess (North Carolina State University), “MashBOT” (A twitterbot. With printer.)
What would a bot do if it could write a mash note? Let’s ask it. This project will craft some handmade lovebots on Twitter, and pair them with a small thermal printer.
- Craig Saper (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), “TENT–a–tive Vision(s) for an Electric [Kool-Aid Acid] Press” (A manifesto.)
There is already a consensus in academia of the main values founding our Electric Press project in collaboration with punctum books. The scholarly (or creative) value is not determined by mode: printed on paper no longer the privileged mode of delivery. Major scholarly organizations and associations have constructed guidelines for peer-review and legitimacy of electronic and multimodal publications. Multimodal projects can also make available new tools, perspectives, and types of knowledge. Multimodal book-equivalents are still part of the history of the book and printing. Once we agree on these foundational values, then the next question is what specifically do we intend to publish. This paper will spend the majority of its time establishing the aspects of Electric Press’ focus. In general, that tentative focus of Electric Press has two general criteria. The works published will: engage in experimental research methods; explore the shift from print-literacy to electronic/Electracy rather than remediating the advantages of the printed-on-paper book in a pdf or other form that mimics and expands the book. The ethos of the Electric Press can be summarized by the revised slogan from The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (“Drop Out & Turn On”): “Drop In & Boot Up” . . . and to do so, you’ll need a TENT-a-tive vision.
- Haylie Swenson (George Washington University), “Philia” (A radio podcast.)
I propose, as a labor of love, presenting my “paper” in podcast form. My dissertation considers the intimacies that arise at the intersection of human and animal death across pre-modern and contemporary literature. My podcast will tell the story behind the story, as it were; it will describe the emotional and tactile encounters I have had with animal vulnerability that underlie this project (an invasive insect I saved from being squished on the Metro; a fox that surprised me in a moment of contemplating my father’s illness; a baby mouse that died in my hand). Using the intimate medium of radio, I will tell these stories as a way of considering the fine line that divides the personal and the scholarly. A love letter to both radio storytelling and scholarship, my podcast will explore one possible, underutilized outlet for telling the stories — the sorrows and passions, the serendipitous encounters — that fuel our academic work.
- Leslie King (Radford University), “Erased – Memories of a Forgotten Daughter” (A handmade book and digital counterpart.)
The memories come and go. Sometimes they manifest in a distorted form. To deal with her mother’s memory loss and how their relationship is changing because of this, Leslie King combines the creation of a handmade book and a digital publication that deconstructs it. The three-dimensional book represents tangible memory. The book is formatted as an origami blizzard book, which holds in its pockets King’s miniature drypoint etchings, words, and event proof in the form of photographs, receipts, and other odds and ends. In the book’s two-dimensional digital representation, the subject becomes distorted through its flattened nature and eventual pixilation loss, like memory, as time goes by.
- Norman Hogg and Neil Mulholland, Confraternity of Neoflagellants (Concordia University + University of Edinburgh), “Thekarites (2014)” (A slideshow.)
Thekarites is a theory-fictional account of the life and death of the artist Paul Thek and his ‘Technological Reliquaries’. In this re-telling, Thek continues to confound the contemporary art scene after his death. Though his processual rituals Thek enacts a dismantling, relic-ing and radical redistribution of the self that floods the sensual hyper-economy with tiny Thekarites — clusters of affective agency or desire. Thek’s radical little ‘me-machines’ then lead a revolution from within the ‘internet of things’ pathing the way for the West’s ecstatic embrace of an animist future.
@neoflagellants Panel 141 @IMC_Leeds 6th July 2015: 11.15-12.45 Neomedieval Aesthetics in the 21st Century https://t.co/kIQwdwTUIA
Medieval archetypes such as pilgrimage, liturgy, anchoritism, relic-ing, alchemy, banquetry, palimpsesting, mumming, compagnonnage, gifting and commoning are popular practices and themes in contemporary art. Why are so many artists mobilising metahistorical anachronisms to explore their contemporaneity – recalibrating and reactivating a variety of premodern ideas as vehicles of renewal – in ways that are best described as neomedieval? This panel of artist-theorists will speculate on neomedievalism’s aesthetic potentialities, from the elasticated loops and folds it presses on our ideas about history, to the untimely visions of differing non-modern futures it can help us to invoke.