Unreal Nature

June 8, 2017

Their Ignored Seams, and Forgotten Vistas

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:58 am

… These momentary openings, the pockets between, their ruins, their transitory spaces …

This is from the essay ‘Absolu avec Vache (and the Spectre of the Gun)’ (2006) found in Walead Beshty: 33Texts: 93,614 Words: 581,035 Characters: Selected Writings (2003-20015) edited by Lionel Bovier (2015):

… individual producers are relegated to one more modular element, the social field appearing as a static constellation of interchangeable parts. The citizen subject realized as a relational component, a unit of measure, an abstraction. But what of the visceral residues of work? Where labor’s vulgar bodily exertions are required, it exists out of view, in off-hours, backrooms, cellars, and distant factories, negotiated in private communications and invisible transports, sanitized by aggregation, illegible in seductive surfaces.

As viewers, our role is to dissolve into these frames, into an aggregated mass: out of time, out of space, and into an abstract gleaming world. yet seeing ourselves as part of the mass, our individuality in a perpetual vacillation between disappearance and reappearance, does not have to be debilitating. Rather, it can be a source of strength. Autonomy has historically merged from marginal zones: pirates and radicals hide like rats in the walls, housewives stage mini-revolutions in their kitchens, office workers in their cubicles.

[line break added] An understanding of this can make it clear that production is a common fact, a daily ritual of compromise enacted with various levels of awareness, but present nonetheless as a lingering force. We can be both inside and outside of the picture, one of its parts, and one of its producers; there need not be a stratified hierarchy in our relationship to aesthetics. The embedded compromises and negotiations present in any production and their subsequent lack of authorial solidity need not be seen as dirty secrets.

[line break added] This would not be an absolutist proclamation of the corruption of authorship, but rather an assertion that this authorial position is a communal one of transparency and subterfuge at once. In this realization, there is a middle ground of negotiation. All production — even “authorship” — is comprised of myriad transit points and competing forces, which deceptively assume the appearance of solidity.

The world we see from traditional spaces — the world outside the window; the world from the perspective of escalators, people movers, monorails, and shopping centers — has become an intellectual bogeyman — a storage container for all our alienations. These infrastructural interstitial zones stand as compromised, indeterminate way stations between chimerical destinations. As an open field they occupy the space of bare fact, which we should approach with suspicion, but they are also undecoded, unprocessed, and this has potential.

… Seemingly monolithic expressions of power are a similar accumulation of compromise and negotiation containing gaps where any visitor may assert their own agenda. We too are collaborators, even if we choose to relinquish our place in the credits. These momentary openings, the pockets between, their ruins, their transitory spaces, their ignored seams, and forgotten vistas promise a site from which the either/or of utopian and apocalyptic thinking — or a political/formalist opposition — can be dismantled, and production can be both symbolic and literal at once.

My most recent previous post from Beshty’s book is here.




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