[iDC] Art

Malian Lahey mlahey at artic.edu
Mon Dec 12 05:35:59 EST 2005

i agree with Joseph Beuys that the ur-form of the artist is a shaman.  Roger
Walsh describes the practice of shamanism as one in which a social outcast
transcends his experience and hence acquires an extremely strong sense of
personal power.  This social outcast is hence able to guide individuals or
societies through points of crisis, in which the ill person or troubled group
has run out of behaviors, that can resolve the problems they are facing.

the shaman guides the person/society through realms of fear and a feeling of
death, destruction of the ego, in the end to reconstitute the self in a
purified, stronger form.

>culture-jamming, tactical media, all excite me and inform my teaching.
>de Certeau, the Situationists, took hold of me strongly as a student.

I would agree with the above statement 110%.  These culture forms are exciting
because they represent new cultural strategies.  Copyleft, open source
development...these radical inventions sparkle with hope.  We need to keep on
inventing ideas like these, and steadily guiding people to them.  We need to
break these ideas out of the perception that they are applicable for the use of
technology only and introduce them to our everyday lives.

semiotic technologies are one arena we can definitely find these useful: Ecke
Bonk's projection of the entire lexicon created by the Brothers Grimm is one
example.  We look back and find that some words, whose connotations have been
twisted over time for the purposes of punishment and control, might serve us
better in their original meanings.

These technologies help us to open knowledge to everyone, meaning to
everyone..."Lament of the Images" by  Alfredo Jaar...when meaning is closed to
us, the door is barred on our survival, cultural value is locked up, out of our
reach, when we can't ask "why" when we can't ask for proof, when the answer is
"because you have to", these are the moments when we need to connect,
investigate, create, assail the fortress.  

the writer Derrick Jensen describes how the first vivisectionists would cut the
vocal chords of the animal before they did anything else.  this allowed them to
assert and even believe, that the animal they were cutting up did not feel

currently one definition of rationalism is denial of emotion: cutting our body's
vocal chords.  Sharing is "emotional" and therefore unnecessary - yet human
beings evolved in a society, evolved sharing.  Our body - and resulting
expressions from it through emotion and reaction - is our hardware.  

Rationalistically imposing a cultural "software" on it that is hostile to it
cannot possibly serve us.  It serves only those who would use the resulting
(emotional, psychic) pain and deprivation to cow us.  We have arrived at a
crisis point where we need alternatives.  We need guides, we need clues.  Art
can provide those for us.  The web can serve as an underground railroad, the
sojourn we make is a journey to knowledge.  

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