[iDC] Re: Vision

Ryan Griffis ryan.griffis at gmail.com
Sun Dec 11 13:05:01 EST 2005

i'm currently reading Gregg Bordowitz's "The Aid Crisis is Ridiculous" 
- i've had it for months, but am just now getting around to reading it. 
It's a collection of his writings that document a relationship to 
activism and aesthetics necessarily filtered by the experience of 
having HIV/AIDS. While I had read a few of the articles reprinted in 
the book, more of them i hadn't. One of the surprises was the first 
text called "Geography Notes: A Survey" that discusses a practice of 
spatial mapping that included psychosocial as well as architectural 
space. What caught me off guard was the timeliness of the this essay - 
it touches on many of the problematics of current location aware media 
and the popularity of mapping in certain cultural circles - and why i 
haven't seen it referenced before. This was written when Gregg was 22 
in 1986.
But what i think is important about this book, or the 
thoughts/information contained in it, is that it exemplifies a 
relationship between the idealism of a lot of social activism, a 
directly embodied/personal activism (as Trebor brings up) and a 
cultural practice that is intellectual and aesthetic. Dealing with the 
global condition of forced pharmaceutical scarcity and theories of 
production-reception at the same time, but in ways that don't pretend 
to be seamless or indexical, but rather tenuously connected by 
individuals and identities living in shared/negotiated space.
ACT-UP and various other models have been brought up before (not in 
this thread) as historical models, and CAE has theorized some of the 
differences between large consensus activities (like ACT-UP) and more 
cellular/modular models (like Group Material, RepoHistory or CAE 
itself). But i think maybe this body of knowledge is being too easily 
passed by. i feel like discussions too quickly oscillate from the grand 
narratives of 1960s Paris to 1999 Seattle, skipping everything in 
between and outside of that frame.
And i'm not entirely convinced that reactionary opposition always lends 
power to what's being opposed. Is there empirical evidence for this? i 
understand the sentiment and believe that there may be some validity to 
it, but i don't know that it functions in such a mechanical way either 
- reactionary oppositions are often (not always) connected to actual 
alternatives, not mutually exclusive of them. i don't think we can 
attribute any of Reagan's power to the puck scene of 1980s DC...
i think of some of the other micro efforts that have come out of 
ACT-UP, or occurred parallel - Ultra Red being one contemporary example 
- provide some interesting and useful points of departure. And they 
definitely provide a context for the productive nature of sharing 
networks that Trebor mentions.
i also think it's necessary to be up front with what we are talking 
about here... cultural work and its role in political direction, which 
is influenced by many things, of which the micro culture we're 
discussing is a small part, IMHO.

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