[iDC] Art, Lifestyle & Globalisation

Alan Clinton reconstruction.submissions at gmail.com
Fri Mar 30 23:02:19 EDT 2007

A couple of thoughts here related to the questions you have posed.  First,
the rhetoric of purity (is there an outside of capitalism?) can be, I think,
an endgame producing the sort of corporate artists Stallabras describes and
those who are overly concerned that they may make a mistake with their art
(or their theory)--no one wants to be called a hypocrite.

The problem of artists, intellectuals, and capitalism is a real one.  Should
I refuse to teach at the Georgia Institute of Technology because of its ties
to the military industrial complex?  If I had refused, when I was just out
of graduate school, I would have had little opportunity to critique the
system in anything resembling a full-time way--I wouldn't have had those
impressionable students either.  But then, if I had gone too far in my
critiques, I would have been fired.  Artists, it strikes me, are in a
similar position.  How to survive in an organism long enough to destroy or
recreate it?

Rather than attempting to start from a position of purity, perhaps we should
recognize that people will find themselves starting out from various
positions of impurity within the system.  And, there will be many ways of
working against this system, of speaking to it in ways that I call,
borrowing one of Derrida's metaphors, "Tympanic Politics":

"In his elucidation of marginalia as a discipline unto itself, Derrida gives
a poetic anatomy of the tympanic membrane and its surroundings.  The ear is
swirling, labyrinthine, and cavelike.  Penetrating its depths presents a
difficult, frightening prospect.  In addition to traversing a maze of
passages, one must confront the wall of the tympanum which has the
capability to muffle the loudest of noises.  If normative discourse/art does
not reach the inner ear with the proper sense of volume or urgency, then how
is one to suggest the political or historical importance of a particular
issue?  For the alternative would be to shock the system in such a way as to
puncture the tympanum altogether, effectively dismantling the apparatus so
that nothing can be heard at all.  It would be as if Constantin Brancusi, on
the verge of rejecting Rodin's method of clay modeling with taille directe,
had shattered The Craiova Kiss with the first hammer strike into formless
stone.  Derrida's answer to such questions, of course, is always a more
specific anatomy of the situation at hand.  He suggests that since the
tympanum is oblique with respect to the ear canal, its subversion requires
an oblique approach as well (taille indirecte?), some form of rhetorical
ambush.  How does one 'unhinge' something that cannot be shattered?"

Alan Clinton

On 3/28/07, dew.harrison at rgu.ac.uk <dew.harrison at rgu.ac.uk> wrote:
>    Dear IDCs,
>    I have been enjoying the recent discussion sparked off by the passing
> of     Baudrillard and would like to move the debate at a tangent to this,
> but     continuing with ideas surrounding forms of social control, power and
> politics. I     am concerned with the domination of the corporate within the
> cultural and     wonder at the position I find myself placed in as an artist
> and academic working     in an educational instituion.
> > Digital media and new technology is reconfiguring our relationship with
> the world and is also affecting how artists relate with their public. Now,
> new locative technology can position art in the everyday of people's lives
> and activities outside the gallery space. Although psychogeography and
> mobile media enable the 'interactive city' for artists to key into, they
> also promote ideas of corporatised play in an urban space and tend to be
> interventionist and intrusive. 'Big brother' media and cctv  surveillance
> allows for few informal, ungoverned social meeting places. This means that
> artists are having to find interstices between the formal constructed and
> observed social spaces where unorthodox art can happen to engage with its
> audience. Just how is such practice being supported within the neo-liberal
> economic structures of globalistation? Julian Stallabrass suggests that this
> only produces artists (in Brit Art particularly) who posture as edgy, risky
> individuals but who are in real terms busy establishing market positions for
> themselves. The answer lies somewhere in the inter-related issues of art,
> lifestyle and  globalisation.
> >
> > In the 1960s Marshall McLuhan predicted a technologically enabled
> 'global village' and issued the warning -
> > "Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library the world has
> become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of
> science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes
> inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase
> of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total
> interdependence, and superimposed co-existence."
> >
> > I would be extremely interested in your thoughts on the extent to which
> we are 'aware of this dynamic' and offer some questions which might
> help  probe the territory -
> >
> > Corporations are rebranding themselves around lifestyle, is this
> influencing creative practice or vice-versa?
> > How do the principals and aesthetics of open source and democratic media
> sit alongside corporate products (iPod etc)?
> > How should arts organisations and institutions respond to open
> networking and ideas exchange, what is a node and a network in cultural
> terms?
> > Are artists the software for the corporation hardware, or the activists
> in sheeps clothing?
> > Where does government funding for the arts sit in the global cultural
> mix, or is corporate money driving the cultural agenda?
> >
>        With thanks and kind regards,
>        Dew Harrison.
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