Unreal Nature

December 31, 2019

Ways of Deciding

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:10 am

… For such a process to be possible, there also must be means of evaluating its results.

This is from Written Into the Void: Selected Writings 1990-2004 by Peter Eisenman (2007):

… The traditional ways of deciding which alternative to choose were based upon a condition of architecture as already embodying significance, that is, by a container or enclosure which by its very naming and function had meaning and use. This container also always looked like architecture, that is, it looked like it functioned and stood up.

[line break added] As has been said above, architecture was seen to contain an embodied sign system, that is, it was already within a regimen of signifiers and it conformed to that regimen of signifiers. Further, such an idea of architecture was legitimized by these signifiers as they represented or looked like certain desired meanings, functions or aesthetic preferences.

The machinic process, on the other hand, begins with the idea that architecture does not necessarily either contain or legitimize an already given or embodied sign system. The machinic would propose an architecture that does not conform to an already embodied condition, that does not have a preexistent condition of meaning in relation to its function, or an already given system of signification in the dialectical or metaphysical sense. For such a process to be possible, there also must be means of evaluating its results. How does one know, for example, when one has arrived at a condition that is cut off from its previous forms of legitimation?

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




December 30, 2019

Is There Time to Visit This Other Place?

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:15 am


This is from Ann Lauterbach’s contribution to Jessica Stockholder: Stuff Matters (2019):

… The performance refutes history, perforates its incomplete, plural assembly, disrupts linear accounts, tracing the tear in the story’s shield, now porous and mobile, now steady, now held up by twigs and the necessary folds in the fabric, or webbing, or the bishop’s marble robe. The invented stage is precarious and so not yet assessed. It was always only a tent, and the parade came by, and the children were gleeful with balloons and masks, apples, signs. Is there time to visit this other place where the ephemeral debris is kept? At the periphery, in gray scale: a person walking one way, two the other; shadows thrown against the concrete, clouds, a shelf, a framed image, a vent, an open door through which strangers pass, on their way in and out.




December 29, 2019

Its Long and Particular Motion

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:00 am

… Is this due to its exceptional situation … as the contact site for historical time and abstraction?

This is from Geometry by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2017, 1995):

… So here is a principle of indeterminism or uncertainty, difficult to reduce: either I know, within a well-defined geometry, the position of an element, figure or theorem, and I lose the speed of its long and particular motion, from its first emergence to its truth of the moment, or I pinpoint its speed, and I lose its position in the science from which it takes its meaning.

This indeterminism has its limit in error, which the scientist forgets, but which the historian must reconstruct as the truth of an era; the historian is interested in dross, the scientist on the contrary is interested in intuitions of genius without any impact on their epoch. Historical truth can change to waste, this latter on the contrary can be reactivated as truth: if I speak true regarding Anaximander’s meaning, I might possibly speak false; if I speak true, I might speak false concerning Anaximander’s meaning. This indeterminism defines the history of science, not as a continuous tradition, but as a discontinuous and rendable framework.

Might this history be contrary to the sciences it talks about?

Is this due to its exceptional situation in relation to the sciences themselves as the contact site for historical time and abstraction?




December 28, 2019


Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:03 am

… the knowledge that runs in the ground is that of all knowledges.

This is from The Life of Lines by Tim Ingold (2015):

… Walking along, as architectural theorist Jane Rendell explains:

… provides a way of understanding sites in flux in a manner that questions the logic of measuring, surveying and drawing a location from a series of fixed and static viewpoints. When we walk we encounter sites in motion and in relation to one another, suggesting that things seem different depending on whether we are ‘coming to’ or ‘going from.’

This leads us to our second property of the ground surface to be considered: that it is infinitely variegated. If there were, in the walker’s mind, a surface analogous to the surface of the earth, then it would not be that of a perfectly rounded globe but would rather be as wrinkled and puckered, at every scale, as the ground surface itself.

… In this regard, the ground is an instrument, not only in the blunt sense that we need it to stand on, but also in the sense that without it we would lose much of our capacity to know. If its variations were erased and covered over by a hard surface, we would still be able to stand and walk but could no longer know as we go along. Just as there is no seeing from the draughtsman confronting a blank sheet of paper, so there is no knowing for the walker on a surfaced earth. His walking would be reduced to the mere mechanics of locomotion, of getting from point to point.

[line break added] In reality, however, not only does the extended mind of the walker infiltrate the ground along myriad pathways, but also, and inevitably, it tangles with the minds of fellow inhabitants. Thus the ground comprises a domain in which the lives and minds of its human and non-human inhabitants are comprehensively knotted with one another. It is, as we have already seen, a composite, woven from diverse materials, and its surface, as it undergoes continuous generation, is that of all surfaces. By the same token, the knowledge that runs in the ground is that of all knowledges.

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




December 27, 2019

Decided By Us

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… We decide undecidable questions over and over again …

This is from Understanding Systems: Conversations on Epistemology and Ethics by Heinz von Foerster / Bernhard Pörksen translated by Karen Leube (2002):

[ … ]

Heinz von Foerster: … [Y]ou can’t discuss ethical questions while you are relaxing in your easy chair. They arise in a concrete situation rather than being abstract and being able to be discussed out of context. Of course I was also an epistemologist and was on the staff of a university, but if you ask me about an ethical dimension, then it is a matter of practice, of down-to-earth problems and not a matter of those categories and taxonomies that serve to fascinate the academic clubs and their specialists.

Bernhard Pörksen: Well, let’s not use the notion of epistemology theory but a concrete thesis. The American Society for Cybernetics once quoted you as having written the following: “Objectivity is a subject’s delusion that observing can be done without him. Invoking objectivity is abrogating responsibility, hence its popularity.”

[ … ]

HF: … talking about undecidability is meant to be an invitation to make a decision. You are being called on to make the choice. In a certain sense decidable questions have already been decided by the framework in which they exist. The only thing you can do is to follow the rules in order to find the answer. According to my metaphysical postulate, however, only questions that are undecidable by their very nature are ones that can be decided by us.

BP: What do you mean by the term “metaphysics”?

HF: This is what I think: we are always metaphysicists, whether we refer to ourselves in this way or not, when we decided questions that are in principle undecidable. And I think that we are constantly doing this in the flow of existence. We decide undecidable questions over and over again, questions that cannot be clarified one way or the other (due to their logical structure, because there is no way to make an observation, etc.). Even when you speak about the past, you choose one possible version of an event. You don’t know how it was. You just know what you can recall about it.

[ … ]

HF: … Of course, it is more comfortable to hang onto the coattails of a guru or a leader or some great idea. You can stop thinking and can submit yourself completely to a world.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




December 26, 2019

I Love It

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:23 am

… My eyes lightly touch the consistency of her body …

This is from Being Nude: The Skin of Images by Jean-Luc Nancy and Federico Ferrari, translated by Anne O’Byrne and Carlie Angelemire (2014):

Lucian Freud, Girl with Closed Eyes, 1986-87

… the pink [incarnat] of the nude is exactly the stripping of incarnation: an incarnation without redemption, without spirit, without Word, without epiphany. All that is left is the palpable matter of color that makes flesh: the mute surface of nudity.

Lucian Freud’s pictures, and their extraordinary pink, make us feel flesh. They don’t provide an image of it but show the very consistency of it. There are tangible traces of the meeting of color and canvas, of the hand that draws the lines of the body, and of the flesh that is incarnated in the color.

… Intimacy, which is innermost and most deeply hidden, becomes the surface. The interiority of this nude is the surface incarnate. The nude is spread across the surface of the painting. The eyes are closed, the muscles relaxed. This is abandon, complete exposition to others. Without this complicity, without this trust in the other, without this unreserved letting go, the nude could never be incarnated in its reality.

The incarnate is the subject that withdraws; those are its eyes that close, making it so that only skin is exposed, defenseless, to the gaze and the touch of the other. The incarnate is the threshold of eros.

She’s asleep. I look at her in silence. My eyes lightly touch the consistency of her body, its intimacy, its strangeness. I love her. I love it.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




December 25, 2019

Our Necessary Conditions for Ordering Anything

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… A concept stands up …

Continuing through The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism by Elizabeth Grosz (2017):

… The type of ordering, evaluation, and organization that each field or discipline creates with may be understood as the plane it occupies, the “plan” or order in which it comes to have sense or in which its sense can come to change. The planes or plans are, in other words, directions or orientations that align different types of entity (concepts, affects, percepts, and prospects) in any possible way, for any possible use.

[line break added] It is in this sense that planes may be understood as virtual, as unactualized (and continually actualizing) potentials for a particular type of autonomous existence, the existence of concepts, of affects and percepts in themselves. As orientations or directions, it is hardly surprising that the planes rely on and attempt to limit chaos by extracting space and time, our necessary conditions for ordering anything.

[line break added] This is what they share, the organization of a space-time and the invention of a protocol to address this organization: “The limit common to all of these series of inventions — inventions of functions, inventions of blocks of duration/movement, inventions of concepts — is space-time. All of these disciplines communicate at the level of something that never emerges for its own sake, but is engaged in every creative discipline: the formation of space-times.” [Deleuze]

… The concepts that populate the plane of immanence — and populate it “nomadically,” that is, without a given location, free to connect with or disconnect from relations to any other element or idea — do not perish as thinkers do. Nor do they persist forever unchanged: the intensities that comprise relations that constitute the plane of immanence are ever changing, capable of alliances with other terms, undergoing endless change, permutations, engagements, revivifications, or quieting down.

[line break added] It is the plane that subsists and provides cohesion for concepts that, as incommensurable as they might be, can nevertheless form connections, change or moderate themselves, grow stronger or weaker, affect and be affected by other concepts, and thus be available for new uses or for the historical reconstruction of its former uses. The plane ensures the persistence of concepts beyond their creation.

… A concept stands up, exists in its own terms, without external support: only then can it be considered a concept (something that can take place on the plane).

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




December 24, 2019

Another Light

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:12 am

… The gaze … is that possibility of seeing which remains covered up by vision.

This is from Written Into the Void: Selected Writings 1990-2004 by Peter Eisenman (2007):

… It might be said that architecture never adequately thought the problem of vision because it remained within the concept of the subject and the four walls. Architecture, unlike any other discipline, concretized vision. The hierarchy inherent in all architectural space begins as a structure for the mind’s eye. It is perhaps the idea of interiority as a hierarchy between inside and outside that causes architecture to conceptualize itself ever more comfortably and conservatively in vision.

[line break added] The interiority of architecture, more than any other discourse, defined a hierarchy of vision articulated by inside and outside. The fact that one is actually both inside and outside of architecture, unlike painting or music, required vision to conceptualize itself in this way. As long as architecture refuses to take up the problem of vision, it will remain within a Renaissance or classical view of its discourse.

… The gaze, according to Maurice Blanchot, is that possibility of seeing which remains covered up by vision. The gaze opens the possibility of seeing what Blanchot calls the light lying within darkness. It is not the light of the dialectic of light/dark but the light of an otherness which lies hidden within presence. It is the capacity to see this otherness which is repressed by vision. The looking back, the gaze, exposes architecture to another light, one which could not have been seen before.

Architecture will continue to stand up, to deal with gravity, to have four walls. But these four walls no longer need to be expressive of the mechanical paradigm.

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




December 23, 2019

The Edge Shifts

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:02 am

… as focus changes the edge shifts.

This is from Jessica Stockholder (2018; 1995):

… I am more interested in asking questions about the edges of things and thought — so the objects I use are not initially the subjects of the work; they are its ground. Nevertheless, the physical details of ‘objects,’ ‘material,’ or ‘stuff’ are replete with meaning that I care about more than their names. The shifting appraisal of where the edge is gives rise to many different ‘pictures’ emerging within a shifting set of frames that allow for myriad points of view within a single work. As clarity as to where the edge of the work might be is disallowed the work becomes enmeshed in its context, and figure ground relations are confused.

Focused attention necessarily has an edge but as focus changes the edge shifts.

My previous post from this book is here.




December 22, 2019

This Little Bit of Music You Will Forget

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:58 am

… whereas time sleeps, rolled up, … deep within our bodies.

Final post from The Incandescent by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2003; 2018):

… What is life? These rhythmic measurements emanating from an ever-present well from which an aperiodic painting stripped of all meaning springs up. What is my life? A meaningful text, formed of books, sentences and words that, all three, begin and end, but are all three constructed from an alphabet thrown into disorder in this well. Yes, these very lines you are reading, reader, this little bit of music you will forget; this thought that seizes me upon my homecoming and will leave me. Who are we? What is our life? A cantabile, allegro, pesto, lento, triste, over an irrepressible background noise.

So eternity appears, fragile and stable, in a fulgurant phenomenal brilliance, a point held like a song — your beauty, the intuition of this dawn, luminous all three of them, the bull and the jaguar, the rooster and the pink peach trees, the granite rocks rolled in the turbulent tumult of the River Garonne and which I knew how to break in the past, these few scattered sentences, individuals, varieties, thrown into the stance, the minute, day, year, century or eras — whereas time sleeps, rolled up, folded, in a pile, as though embryonated in aperiodic sets of elements, genes and atoms deep within our bodies.

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




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