30 August 2010


"We will continue to employ the methodological concept of the model by setting out precisely what its attributes and properties are:
a) It refines certain characteristics of the concept in general, and of conceptual elaboration or conceptualization. By summing up an experimental and practical given, the classic consept turned too much towards the past, and also towards the simple. The model is a more flexible tool, capable of exploring the complex and the random. With it, thought becomes 'propositional' in a new way: programmatic. However, if the 'model' refines the concept, it cannot dispense with it. It presupposes a conceptual elaboration.
b) Like the concept, the model is a scientific abstraction and a level of abstraction. It is always revisable, and cannot be taken either as a reality or entity imminent to the real beneath the appearances of phenomena (the ontological temptation, which structuralism finds hard to avoid), or as a norm or value (the normative temptation). The methodology of models forbids their fetishization.
c) The model is constructed in order to confront 'reality' (experience and practice). It is useful, not least because it helps us to appreciate the gap between itself and the facts, between the abstract and the concrete, between what has been certified and what is still possible. The model is useful: it is a working implement for knowledge. Only the concept has the dignity of knowing.
d) As far as a set of facts is concerned, there can be no question of a single model. If we are to grasp the actual and the possible,we must construct several models. The confrontation between these will be as interesting theoretically as the confrontation between one of them and the concrete element it represents. In this way diversity and discussion during the process take on added value. No one model can be sufficient or pretend to be sufficient by bringing research to a halt. So we are faced with two alternatives: ontology or criticism, dogmatism or empiricism (or pure relativism).
e) The concept of the model also helps to refine the concept of hypothesis. Every model encompasses a hypothesis (in the broadest sense, theoretical or strategic). Every hypothesis concludes by constructing a model, which is the halfway stage between inventing the hypothesis and proving it. So the model assumes the qualities of the hypothesis: provability, creativity. As Politzer said, it should enable us to move from philosophical luxury to the economy of philosophy, by separating the hypothesis out from speculation.
f) Because it must prove its creativity, the model must have an operating or operational character. However, this trait must not be fetishized. The operating techniques linked to a particular model must be examined with care and suspicion. Fetishization of this characteristic, which blows it up out of all proportion, is the feature of a certain well-defined ideology, namely technocratism. The operational model becomes the practical and theoretical property of a bureaucracy and a technocracy. This brings us back to the most disturbing aspect of structuralism. The fetishization of the concept of the 'model' is part of the strategy of the social group of technocrats."
–Henri Lefebvre, Critique of Everyday Life; Volume 2, p. 177.

27 August 2010

Cosima von Bonin


MAY AND JUNE 1, 2010
130 CM x 90 CM x 400 CM
SMOKE, 2008 / 2010
Photo: Markus Trette
© Kunsthaus Bregenz, Cosima von Bonin

24 August 2010

a comely Dikē throttled an ugly Adikia

"9. Archives are governed by the Laws of Intellectual Propriety as opposed to Property

As the monetary value of the global information economy gains more importance, the abstract value of images get articulated within the language of property and rights. The language of intellectual property normativizes our relationship to knowledge and culture by naturalizing and universalizing narrow ideas of authorship, ownership and property. This language has extended from the world of software databases to traditional archives where copyright serves as Kafka’s gatekeeper and the use of the archive becomes a question of rights management.

Beyond the status of the archive as property lies the properties of the archive which can destabilize and complicate received notions of rights.

They establish their own code of conduct, frame their own rules of access, and develop an ethics of the archive which are beyond the scope of legal imagination. If the archive is a scene of invention then what norms do they develop for themselves which do not take for granted a pre determined language of rights. How do practices of archiving destabilize ideas of property while at the same time remaining stubbornly insistent on questions of ‘propriety’.

Intellectual propriety does not establish any universal rule of how archives collect and make available their artifacts. It recognizes that the archivist play a dual role: They act as the trustees of the memories of other people, and as the transmitters of public knowledge. This schizophrenic impulse prevents any easy settling into a single norm.

Propriety does not name a set of legislated principles of proper etiquette, instead it builds on the care and responsibility that archivists display in their preservation of cultural and historical objects. The digital archive translates this ethic of care into an understanding of the ecology of knowledge, and the modes through which such an ecology is sustained through a logic of distribution, rather than mere accumulation.

It remembers the history of archivists being described as pirates, and scans its own records, files and database to produce an account of itself. In declaring its autonomy, archives seek to produce norms beyond normativity, and ethical claims beyond the law."

—from Pad.Ma, 10 Theses on the Archive

15 August 2010

"Dialectical materialism is not, and never has been, a programmatic method for solving particular physical problems. Rather, dialectical analysis provides an overview and a set of warning signs against particular forms of dogmatism and narrowness of thought. It tells us, “Remember that history may leave an important trace. Remember that being and becoming are dual aspects of nature. Remember that conditions change and that the conditions necessary to the initiation of some process may be destroyed by the process itself. Remember to pay attention to real objects in time and space and not lose them in utterly idealized abstractions. Remember that qualitative effects of context and interaction may be lost when phenomena are isolated.” And above all else, “Remember that all the other caveats are only reminders and warning signs whose application to different circumstances of the real world is contingent."
- Richard Lewontin