Thursday, 29 August 2013

Posterity



Well this is disconcerting, being dead. I gather it happened at some point in the last week, just after I’d opened the last box that I’d been waiting for from the printers. Apparently it was a “Massive Myocardial Infarction brought on by excessive consumption of caffeine pills, Ritalin, and energy drinks over an extended period of time”. The bastards killed me. I knew it, I knew something like this would happen. I could feel it. They were sucking the life out of me one click of the mouse at a time. 



They were killing me, but then really I was doing it, to myself, and I knew it had to be done. They were important. I was onto something, and even if they were going to be my epitaph I knew it would be a glorious one. It is precisely because they drained me so completely that they can now go forth and embody me so comprehensively. They are me, and I am no longer. Well, shortly I will be no longer. It was my followers on Twitter who raised the alarm after I hadn’t tweeted in two days, and wasn’t replying DM’s, and it was my fans generally, on Fb, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, that lobbied for the stuff I had been working on, the project I had just completed, my magnum opus, my progeny, my terracotta army, to be kept in perpetuity, to be put on display, to be lauded. Paradigmatic they said, exemplary of what a maverick, independent, eccentric designer could do at the start of the 21st Century.

^My Byronic ode to the infinite thinness & ineffable depths of technology & the internet

They even took the fragments of the epic youtube film that I had been working on, what was going to be my “grand viral saga”, my Byronic ode to the infinite thinness and the ineffable depths of my life and of the internet, and they put them together to be shown with my children. The whole lot was bought by the Design Museum, to be put in a gallery supposedly. Apparently as the contemporary epitome of ‘Identity’ being manifested in objects of design. Makes sense, I mean those things basically consumed me. They are me, they’re all that’s left of me, and as I fade away I can at least take comfort in the thought that I gave birth to something worthwhile; that my body may be carbonised and float up into the afternoon sky, but I will remain, hard and shiny, colourful, bold, tasty, and delightful, offering myself up to the gaze of every passer-by, flirting, glinting, enticing…

^my pieces in the Design Museum

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Drive


I get this thing when I'm on to something where I'm like, just let me finish it before anything happens to me, something’s going to happen to me, I know it, I can’t shake the feeling, but please just let me finish this... Cycling around becomes a whole world of anxiety because I start worrying that if I get knocked off my bike I won't be able to finish what I started, and I have to be able to, to get it done. I’m getting it at the moment, with all this stuff that I’ve been doing recently, it’s kind of taken me over, its like these things are using me, making me give birth to them, over and over, again and again, and there needs to be more and more of them. I’m getting insane re-blog rates on tumblr right now, and yet I just don’t care what people think anymore, there’s this thing I’ve got to get done and that’s it, now, as soon as possible, these beautiful babies that I have to bring in to the world. For their own sake. For them, all of them, all together. They’re using me, sucking the energy out of me. I’m at their service, doing their bidding, exercising their will. I’m barely doing anything else at the moment. I couldn’t care less if my inbox is jam packed, I’ve turned off all push notifications, I uninstalled Skype from my computer. I don’t really understand it, but I like it, like I’ve got a purpose again. This little world that I’m slowly disgorging. It’s slowly emptying me out. These objects are slowly emptying me out. One vessel at a time. I’m shrinking as their ranks grow, but I’m also growing more satisfied, calmer. They are demanding taskmasters, but I don’t mind. I love them. Looking at them in front of me gives me a sense of permanence, a sense of security -stasis- that I’ve never had before. They are me, but a purer me than I could ever be. Just a few more now…


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Edible

^MeMeMeMe Totems, Glazed Porcelain

As far as I'm concerned there's no point in making anything that won't make you want to eat it just by looking at it. Beauty is great and everything, but I don't think that anything can beat something that is totally irresistible, stuff that is so completely luscious you just want to shove as much of it in your mouth as you possibly can, or lick it like mad like it’s a huge, ice cold, five scoop strawberry ice bonanza. Most food looks like crap and does anything but make you want to eat it. It’s frankly got nothing to do with whether you can actually eat something or not. It’s all about how much it gets your senses going, how quickly and strongly it gets to your gut through your eyes, how quickly it makes you salivate with longing. Our senses, our urges, all our various bodily desires that can be aroused have extremely vague boundaries, they blur into one another. One thing that triggers hunger, if it’s got enough going for it, quite easily tickles a few sensors in the horny department and bam! You’ve got a naughty little piece of porcelain feeding you at the same time as getting you off, whilst all the time doing nothing but sitting there quietly. Coquettish, delicious inertness. That’s what I want to see from the things that emerge from my kiln. Armies of them, phalanxes of indescribably appetizing, delicately lustful, bright, yummy, scrumptious, gorgeous soldiers. Rank upon rank upon rank standing naughtily to attention. My very own Terracotta army fighting in perpetuity, not for beauty, not for my memory, but for deliciousness, delight, titillation and desire.

More me, me, me and me than I could ever be.

^MeMeMeMe Totems, Glazed Porcelain

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Stepwell Whirl


99 Flake, heaven in a cone, twisted as it comes out the machine, white spiral of delight. Sexiest damn piece of food design in the history of everything, the Mr Whippy whirl. Thatcher's one and only, uncontestedly brilliant gift to the world. Bright like teeth in a ridiculously healthy smile, voluptuous and curvy like the most naughty things imaginable. They should make beds like that, doors, lamps, toilets, tables. In fact I will. In fact I did.

In India they have these step wells, their sides are just ranks and ranks of steps. Its because the water level changes so much that people sometimes need to go down fifteen metres or so to fill their buckets. They're weird, ancient, strange looking, the kind of thing that would look great in a fantasy film. In Fellini's brilliant camp-fest the 'Satyricon', he transforms this kind of setup into a multi-storey brothel, an uncanny inverted pyramid of carnal desire. Lurid, strange, ancient, vulgar, dirty, glorious. Pink. Red. Hot.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Fire


God made Adam by baking earth in the fire of his breath. So he was basically a lone designer who came up with the concept of mankind and fabricated everything himself. With his fiery breath, and his mud, he was really like the first studio potter of them all.


I mean I was already essentially shooting off Adams left right and centre, printing them all over the place, imaterialise, shapeways. Selling loads too, online. But I was like God without his fiery breath. I was like a studio potter without a kiln. Everything that I could touch was made somewhere else. Well now there’s my laptop in front of me, and behind me I’ve got a kiln. I can breathe life into earth at the same time as breathing life into bytes. Bam! The setup’s complete: Laptop, Kiln, Candelabra, Urn, and a touch of genius. My objects, my daydreams, my minions shall inherit this earth.

^photo by Tanya Gomez

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Candelabra Urn


To celebrate his passing 30,000 followers on Tumblr he burned the letter his ex had left him the day she stormed out, outlining everything that was weird, obsessive and antisocial about him, and sealed it’s ashes in an urn he’d gotten printed, thereby forever laying to rest his nagging terror both of her potentially being right, and of his being forever alone.


As his online popularity grew, as he started to really get what people responded to in video, posts, tweets, pretty much any medium that came his way, he began to think of himself, sitting there at his laptop typing and clicking, as if he were just like Liberace at his piano, only way cooler. The only thing missing was the candelabra, some trademark scenography, which he promptly set about modelling, ordering, receiving, and sticking next to him on the desk so that it framed his face in all his new Vine and Youtube vids. In his head the stage was now set for world domination…



Saturday, 3 August 2013

Exquisite Ennui

^Vase from the 'Exquisite Ennui' Series, Glazed earthenware

After the second half pill, a big pack of Doritos, and probably the third bottle of Tesco's own Soave, which had altogether lasted them the duration of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and an episode of something about what it’s like to be really, really fat, they mulled over the fact that they didn't really do much together other than watch stuff on screens.

People around them were taking up hobbies, playing Ukele in the park, doing yoga, cycling, making pottery, obsessively taking pictures of everything and anything they cooked, touched, saw, did, with their old hand-held film Pentaxes, and developing it all in their cupboard. One particular acquaintance they all pretended to like had her own allotment, and had sworn to only eat things that she grew herself because the Supermarkets were “Poisoning all of us”. She was supposedly going to make a documentary out of her experience.  Everyone seemed to be making a point of doing stuff that was hands on, that was old-school, crafty, communal. Some people had even made a point of leaving facebook, which was rubbish because they seemed to mostly be people that they all loathed equally, and whose photo streams and status updates they had spent many happy hours together coming up with snarky comments about.



^2 Vases from the 'Exquisite Ennui' Series, Glazed earthenware

Anyway, not to be left out, they needed something along those lines that they could post to facebook/twitter/flickr/instagram and tag/@ each other in, and since one of their mothers liked making bad clay sculptures of ‘abstract’ interlocking figures, and had a kiln, and mountains of spare clay, and her studio was basically her kitchen, they started making pottery. All of them except one had been to Art School at some point, and so they all agreed it would be simplest running with a Cadavre Exquis type thing. It was an easy way of making something look random and cool, while equally dividing up the workload, and actually making everything a whole lot easier because nothing really needed to be planned, or discussed. One of them would take a strip of clay and bend it into a wiggly shape, pass it on to the next person who would bend another wiggly strip and then stick that one to the previous one, pass it on and so on and so on, until soon enough, after a few times round the table, they would have an unpredictably random looking symbol of their coolness. Sometimes they’d keep going and make something big, other times they’d like what they had quite quickly and end up making lots of little things. 

They’d keep the door to the garden open, have the TV on, a spliff in counter-rotational movement to the clay, a laptop in the middle of the table, bowls of crisps, some regional craft cider that would look good in photos, and plenty of 2litre bottles of Soave. At least one of them at any given moment would be snapping Vine vids and posting them online that showed lots of clay covered hands and them just generally having an amazing, old-school time. They got the mum to fire and glaze whatever they made –as well as clean up the mess they left- and without really having to change their lifestyles that much they got to keep acting as holy-as-thou as they liked around everyone else because frankly, unfairly, the stuff that came out of their weekly binges was really quite amazing. 

They even got into the local newspaper and a whole load of blogs because they marketed the pieces online as “communally made by young local craftspeople, trained in British arts colleges, who have a passion for keeping traditional skills alive whilst pushing the newest in design ideas.” On their ebay page you couldn’t avoid in huge graphics that 30% of any money they made was donated to a fund that ‘fights the negative effects of gentrification on local communities’.

^Vase from the 'Exquisite Ennui' Series, Glazed earthenware

Monday, 29 July 2013

57th Rome

^Two pieces from the "57th Rome" 3d-printed Ceramic Collection

There was this old history doc on More4 the other day that had these really bad early cgi fly throughs of a super low-res version of Carthage. They were going on about how grand it had been, rival to Rome, how violent the siege had been, what a loss to the world its destruction had been etc. But its huge circular harbour, its acropolis and its piled up buildings were all rendered in badly bitmapped cylinders and rectangular extrusions, and everything was blurry-edged and a bit fuzzy cos the animation had been really badly de-interlaced. It felt more like Mario64 does Carthage with a faulty graphics card than anything else. It was gorgeous though. I’ve always liked ruins and their reconstructions, they always get me thinking and guessing about what this bit was, what that bit did, who lived in it, what was the world like then. This kind of did that, I mean just hinting at Carthage is enough to set your fantasy-loving mind off on a Game-of-Thrones-like bender, but it was also like another kind of reconstruction, of the early digital era, of when I was 12 and CD-Roms were new and we played Myst, a time that seems hazy and as impossibly remote as the colonnaded agora in which the Carthaginians sacrificed their children to the fire. The ancient Mediterranean meets antiquated technology, with somehow the former being infinitely more sophisticated than the latter. Take a Carthaginian column and you’ve got a stack of amazing sculpture, its capital, fluting, entablature, it’s all rich as hell. But then stick it through the filter of early computers like they did in that documentary and it gets completely changed. It gets reduced to a kind of even more ancient, prehistoric sort of primitiveness. The fluting goes, the capital loses everything except its bounding box, the entablature becomes a flattish surface. It’s a double ruin. The city got reconstructed from the ruins of its story, its traces, but the limit of the animator’s tools meant that in a way they ruined the reconstruction, instantly joining together for all eternity, in perpetuity, through the vehicle of that animation, a certain moment in the sped-up technological time of the 90s, and the pungent era of epic mythological time of Carthage and Rome. I think we should try and do it more often, what that animation did. We should reconstruct things that we are obsessed with from the impossibly distant past: things, objects, buildings. We should reconstruct them with all the modern tools at our disposal, knowing full well that we are ruining them in the process. Ruination through making. Fabrication Technology as Time Machine that transforms the past. Amphorae, Oil Lamps, Candelabra; NVidia Quadro, ZCorp6500, Photoshop CS6.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Lovenir

^a Lovenir

There’s no point having sex unless you record it. And forget snapchat, vine, movs, you might as well go the whole hog and do something proper, push the limits, and I don’t mean just another fuzzy, badly framed phone vid pasted together on imovie with shit music. Put any old ebay web cams equidistant from each other in the four corners of your room, make sure they have an unobstructed view, and bam, there’s an app (called Lovenir) that syncs them together and takes as many 3d scans/vids of the action as you want. Like usual, you can both watch the fun afterwards as many times as you like, edit it, send it, post it whatever, the difference is that now you can pick your favourite frames and order them, have your very own little yous doing it all day on your bedside table. They 3d print souvenirs of you that get sent straight to your place, and you can get them any size, any material (all depends on how much you want to spend), you can pick whatever frame, and they've got filters which are like the 3d equivalent of instagram. You can get street-icon-people filter yous, Salvador-Dali-melting filter yous, 50s-tin-toy filter yous, it’s endless. I've also discovered tangentially that you should keep the ones which depict rather specific positions you have a penchant for. They can be rather useful in situations where otherwise explaining the desired set-up can become a bit long winded and awkward, especially if it’s an off-the-beaten-track kind of one.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Porcelain, the State, the Living Room and the Deviant


Earth, minerals, sand, and fire; some madness, lust, covetousness and greed; a little art, flair, pretension and pageantry; too much time, technology, loneliness and power: this stuff makes us into little prophets, we tap the plastic three times and out comes all the riches of the world, and more, fashioned in our own image like Medusa turning her own children to stone with a disinterested glance, through her webcam.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Babel


Sometimes he felt like he was outside of himself, looking with slight disdain at the expressionless features of his face, but still feeling his face somehow, numbly, like putty. This happened a lot in taxis. Often, he was attached to his body the way the lens in a phone is connected to its owner as it snaps the selfie in a mirror. Sometimes it was worse, much worse. Sometimes he felt like he was just a volume of paper thin skin encompassing nothing, a human balloon terrified of pins, trying to pretend to everyone that everything is normal, when he was actually terrified, rigid with worry that he might just pop at any given moment. This mostly happened in the build up to office socials. Occasionally he was overcome with remorse. He would feel like he had been entirely unfaithful to his previous selves by attaining so little, by forgetting their dreams, by allowing their passions to be slowly doused in alcohol and BBC reruns. This mostly happened during hangovers. His generally applicable panacea of aimlessly surfing Vimeo’s Staff Picks would no longer work in these instances, so he would walk. Preferably up and down things, like ramps and stairs, regular repetitions of similarly sized steps, but outside, so he could feel the cold or heat on his face. This left few options in his vicinity that were suitable, namely the assortment of multi storey car parks whose ramps and stairs he would ascend and descend in alternation, up the stairs, down the ramps, down the road and up the ramps then down the stairs and so on. The guards were always too busy chatting to notice him and incrementally, with each step he took, he would fill out. Not feel good or anything like that, just that the terror would go away. As he climbed he would slowly lose the feeling that he was his own double, or that there was nothing inside him and he had to hide it, or that he was only the sum of other people’s opinions of him. These walks, usually at night, lit by neon, were the only times he started to feel that the grammar-less 20,000 word email full of misspellings that he usually felt himself to be was sort of fixing itself, adding full stops, using spell check, becoming legible. The car parks were his tower of babel. He was building with his feet, up and up, piling on top of each other, ever higher ramps and stairs and stairs and ramps. Precipitously, endlessly, he was reaching for himself, for his one unitary self, whole, sure and pristine. But every time, sure as with the biblical tower itself, the moment would come when he would shatter. Like a warning that you can and should never try and approach an ideal, even yourself, let alone God, just as he was able to gather a glimmer of relief, each and every time, he would splinter back into a thousand anxieties, a million viewpoints, each with their own language, lost and confused. In the broken wake of his collapsed edifice, he would return home haunted each time with all of his facebook pages and twitter profiles crowding around him and shouting at each other like demented and vengeful spirits.




Friday, 12 July 2013

Lick


It was on the second visit to this girl’s flat that he noticed the vase, in the corner of the room, partially obscured behind an aspidistra. With her he was just going through the motions, being polite, maintaining for the sake of form conversations in which he could never really give his opinion, since the way she expressed hers clearly implied an absolute intolerance towards those held anywhere near the other end of the spectrum, which was where his tended to reside. He mostly mumbled agreement. And what went on in the bedroom left plenty to be desired. Lights had to be off, pitch black, lots of no go areas, no noises, or sometimes deadening, theatrically unbelievable ones.

It was during her interminable “chats” over mugs of cold tea that he developed an attraction for the vase, which was directly behind her end of the sofa, meaning he could study its contours, become intimately acquainted with the play of sunlight on its glaze, whilst appearing to be entirely concentrated on whatever infinite list of right-wing platitudes she was reeling off at any given moment. The uneven, translucent turquoise of its bulging central section glinted and shone from within like shallow summer waters. Shadows from the agitated aspidistra were passing clouds, they served only to emphasise the vividness of that which they would so briefly hide.

Where she always presented herself as flawless, her vase was full of imperfections. In one place there was a deep crack filled with shiny lead, looking for all the world like a river seen from space as it catches the sun. Nearby on a particularly broad expanse of diaphanous light-green, there was an area of finely interwoven, multi-layered crazing (fine cracks), as if the vase were a thinly frozen lake, and someone had just walked across it.

Its blue had more depth, and more intelligence than the blue in her eyes. Its curves gave themselves up to the sunlight, to delight, to his eyes more freely than she would have ever dreamed of allowing herself, and he found himself coming over more and more often, found himself saying how much he liked to “chat”, found himself waiting for each time she went to the loo.

Within the confines of its S-curve profile, its three different glazes and their varying depths, he discovered an entire world that he feasted on not only with his eyes, but as he drew close when she would leave the room, with the tips of his fingers, with his whole palm, cupping each protrusion lovingly, with the tip of his tongue, tickled by its alpine coolness, the occasional powdering of malty dust, the thrill, the sheer tingling release of running the full way around, from top to bottom, side to side, with the entire surface of his tongue, spread out at full sail and sliding with total abandon.

It was delicious, a delight. A pile of clay, a dusting of sand, some minerals, fire. It didn’t say a word. It didn’t do anything. And yet it filled his senses, pricked his desire, drew him back. He felt an affinity with the Hebrews who believe that human life originated in clay, that the very first man, Adam, was really also the very first piece of ceramic, fired in the breath of God. The vase was definitely more alive than the girl. He was even beginning to feel like it was more alive than him, like it was an object out of time that required his veneration, needed a weekly tribute of caresses, attention, adulation and passion from a mere mortal or else it would silently bleed itself away, disappear into an attic, die.

After a few weeks, already suspicious as to why he kept coming over, especially since their relationship had ended and they didn’t exactly get on like bff’s, she pretended to go and write an email in her bedroom, watching instead from her room as he surreptitiously crept over to her plant, kneeled down next to it, grabbed the urn which used to contain her great grandmother’s ashes, and started fondling, licking, and practically necking it like he was some disgusting, deranged dog in heat.

She pushed him to the door shouting things along the lines of ‘what the hell is wrong with you?’ and ‘get out you freak’. She never replied any of his texts after that. Luckily they did not have any mutual friends.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Me Me Me Me


It is the act of copying/modifying itself that keeps the thing being copied alive, maintaining its bloodline, sustaining its aura.

Its imitators, its satirists, its defacers are all just further validation of its genetic vigour.

The larger the number of its progeny the greater its value.

Every single distorted copy transforms the original to the exact degree by which it differs from it, so that the increase in value of the original is a direct outcome of the degree to which it is being constantly transformed.

Every reinterpretation forever alters the manner in which the thing being interpreted can be understood in the future.

This is a story of instantaneous genetic evolution, millions of Galapagoses a year studied with wonder from the little HMS Beagles of our laptops.

Beneath the biological matter coming and going and breeding and dying, it is also a geological tale.

It is about the slow sedimentation of layer after layer of meaning, compressing infinitesimally into something durable, cohesive, hard and representative, a collective landmass of superficialities layered so high they have become the very incarnation of depth, there for us to excavate before the whole thing slides into the sea.

The Arctic ice cap is melting in inverse proportion to the rate at which the internet is growing. 1 gigabyte for one cubic metre.




Less is more : Mies Van Der Rohe


Less is a bore : Robert Venturi


Less is a snore : Gianni Versace


Yes is more : Bjark Ingels


More is more : Gianfranco Ferre



I am a whore : Phillip Johnson



Sunday, 16 June 2013

Yantralection


Oh my god, the first collection is done: hashtag WANT. Seriously, if I got one of these, I think I would be happy for a few minutes, seriously, maybe even more, like an eternity 4 me, 4EVER; but you, if you got one, I know you follow instructions, like 2 the letter, perfect early-adopter that you are, you'll love yours endlessly, like a little car crash in your living room that you can't help constantly looking at, slowing your life down just 2 stare, little monstrous piece of kryptonite that it really is, instructions say "Immolate me in your gaze, and as I burn each time, you will be slightly more free". lol. Yeah, and eating Special K evry days gona turn me in2 Kate Moss. Still #want





ps, u can buy this stuff, in evil little limited editions (hey, the artist gotta live).
Contact me at adamnathanielfurman@gmail.com 4 more info.

Grrrr!


Friday, 7 June 2013

Yantrament


When we indulge in our daily practice of controlled distraction, we become more and more familiar with the labouring processes of our consciousness, and in particular we learn to recognize the unstoppable movement of the mind, the indefatigable energy of our being which we usually experience as feelings, unquestioned drives, nervousness, anxieties, but which here we can observe objectively as so many insubstantial thoughts, drifting past like thunder clouds on the horizon.

We do this by using an object of meditation to provide a contrast, a counterpoint to what is running through our head, an exterior reference point to which we can come back and through which we can regain a state of observation over ourselves. As soon as we go off and start thinking about something, losing ourselves in the worry of having not answered this or that email, or the unpleasant sensation of our muffin-tops pressing against the waistline of our trousers, awareness of the Yantrament will bring us back.



Monday, 3 June 2013

Yantralicious.mov



Despite trying to get some work done, his gaze twitched nervously across the various objects on his desk, skipping over them in quick succession, ever so briefly touching each one with his mind in a carousel of table top distraction. A porcelain figurine, a flashcard reader, a camera, some cables, a soft toy, a plastic character of graphic nature, measuring tape, mug, crystal ball, gilt frame without photo, souvenirs, speakers that look like flies eyes, some costume jewellery. Where he would usually be compelled by the invisible hand of his anxiety to check if anyone had posted on instagram every 10 minutes, recently his mental escape from the computer screen was refuge in things within a metre of him that he could reach out and touch, and which he took to moving around, reorganising in little groups, brief collections that made sense only to the edges of his reasoning, but which were gradually exerting greater and greater gravitational pull on his eyes away from MS Word to his right, or left, depending where he had placed them that afternoon. The pursuit recalled the endless fascination of playing with building blocks as a child, their willingness to absorb the implication of stories without anything being too clear, but this was more calming. As he turned them over repeatedly in his mind, the objects often merged together, sometimes one way, sometimes another, appearing in his wandering attention when he was away from his desk, so that on the tube, standing in the queue for the post office, waiting for the lift, he could turn his thoughts towards these collections of things. Shapes which now in the light of his imagination began to evolve away from their primordial beginnings on the desk next to his computer, sometimes reaching dazzling heights of kaleidoscopic inventiveness, always exercising his freedom of focus, enlarging his field of awareness to include and enjoy the creativity of distraction.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Yantralicious 01


Yantra
a two- or three-dimensional geometric composition used in sadhanas, or meditative rituals. It is thought to be the abode of the deity. Each yantra is unique and calls the deity into the presence of the practitioner through the elaborate symbolic geometric designs.

Delicious
1) very appealing to the senses, esp to the taste or smell 2) extremely enjoyable or entertaining
Origin, C13: from Old French, from Late Latin dēliciōsus, from Latin dēliciae delights, charms, from dēlicere to entice; see delight

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Singularity


The mass of functions contained within a limited, finite volume has increased so exponentially that the point has been reached where it finally collapses into its own singularity of meaning: a collection of potential uses so vast that they are crushed under the weight of their own potential, cancelling each other out, eating each other up, imploding into an intimate black hole whose sole object of gravitational pull appears to be the human gaze, the mind’s attention, which it pulls in beyond its event horizon of formlessness and obliterates under the infinite weight of functional apotheosis.


The other day his iphone stopped working. It sat there on his table looking for all the world like the opposite of a thing, not really a nothing, more a void, like a piece of the room was missing, like it’s beveled black anti-matter was ever so gently absorbing the light, energy and air, or some other imperceptible but vital force out from the space just around it on the table. He hadn’t noticed that particular aspect of it before, but then he was usually too busy playing Angry Birds Star Wars on it. The next morning he came downstairs to find that it was quite clearly bleeding, melting, or rotting, doing something biological, something very un-iphone-like. Swirls of magenta, ochre, ultramarine, rainbows like gasoline leaks were softening its edges, its insides were swelling and the corners of bright, dripping shapes were beginning to protrude from its now diaphanous, bent and punctured skin. He made himself coffee and stood in front of the table watching as his old phone burst, grew out, spread up and flowered forms so loud, abundant, riotous and intricate that standing there, feebly clutching his favourite mug with both hands, he was spellbound. Where the carcass of his iphone had been only the night before was now a mad little totem of wildness, a feast for the eyes that was just as silent as its inert predecessor, but which rather than negating itself, was bleeding itself into the air around it, spilling its colours gently out into his tablecloth, sparkling chromatically with the flecks of sunlight that reached it through the window. Its abundance was too great for its tiny size and it was giving itself up to the room around it, to him. He was late and needed to leave, and instinctively reached into his pocket to take a picture with his phone. Realising, he stood for a minute longer then ran for the door, assuming it wouldn’t be there when he got back.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Cyborg

^Rachael from the movie Blade Runner (source)


Two extracts from Donna J Haraway’s 'A Cyborg Manifesto', a text in which she lays down the Cyborg as a driving metaphor for illuminating a much more nuanced, immersive approach to technology, the body, and identity, one that neither recoils in fear from monstrous new developments nor worships progress, but which rather entirely sidesteps the archaic, totalitarian dualisms of culture/nature, self/other, male/female, civilized/primitive, right/wrong, truth/illusion, total/partial, reality/appearance; instead asking us to construct our reality as we move, on the go, responding to, ironically incorporating and utilising multiple new viewpoints and states of being in ways incommensurable with the old, given identity groupings. Irony here has nothing to do with a bitchy cynicism that lets you appropriate at will without commitment, it is not the post-modern tactic of relinquishing any attachment to those multiple things you use and make with a disgustingly, violently condescending, knowing wink; it is instead poetic irony, the ability to embody multitudes, a complex approach to existence, design, politics, and life in which multiple viewpoints, numerous approaches and conflicting and incommensurate values can, by virtue of the singularity of the human will, compress it all into the razor’s edge of a broad creative existence in thrall to no reductive dogma, but allied to everything and all that can, and might, broaden our horizons.


“For excellent reasons, most Marxisms see domination best and have trouble understanding what can only look like false consciousness and people’s complicity in their own domination in late capitalism. It is crucial to remember that what is lost, perhaps especially from women’s points of view, is often virulent forms of oppression, nostalgically naturalized in the face of current violation. Ambivalence towards the disrupted unities mediated by high-tech culture requires not sorting consciousness into categories of ‘clear-sighted critique grounding a solid political epistemology’ versus ‘manipulated false consciousness’, but subtle understanding  of emerging pleasures, experiences, and powers with serious potential for changing the rules of the game.”


“There are several consequences to taking seriously the imagery of cyborgs as other than our enemies. Our bodies, ourselves; bodies are maps of power and identity. Cyborgs are no exception. A cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden; it does not seek unitary identity and so generate antagonistic dualisms without end (or until the world ends); it takes irony for granted. One is too few, and two is only one possibility. Intense pleasure in skill, machine skill, ceases to be a sin, but an aspect of embodiment. We can be responsible for machines; they do not dominate or threaten us. We are responsible for boundaries; we are they.”



Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Collapsed Time in Collected Space



This is a scene in an Antique Dealer's collection, taken from Honoré De Balzac's philosophical novel "The Wild Ass's Skin", where he outlines the uncanny and alluring effect of a multitude of collected objects -not yet divested of historical allusion or meaning, nor icily institutionalised- contained in a small, compressed private space, and set upon by an eager imagination.

“At first sight the showrooms offered him a chaotic medley of human and divine works. Crocodiles, apes and stuffed boas grinned at stainless glass windows, seemed to be about to snap at carved busts, to be running after lacquer-ware or to be clambering up chandeliers. A Sevres vase on which Madame Jaquetot had painted Napoleon was standing next to a sphinx dedicated to Sesostris. The beginnings of creation and the events of yesterday were paired off with grotesque good humour. A roasting-jack was posed on a monstrance, a Republican sabre on a medieval arquebus. Madame du Barry, painted in pastel by Latour, with a star on her head, nude and enveloped in cloud, seemed to be concupiscently contemplating an Indian chibouk and trying to divine some purpose in the spirals of smoke which were drifting towards her.

Instruments of death, poniards, quaint pistols, weapons with secret springs were hobnobbing with instruments of life: porcelain soup-tureens, Dresden china plate, translucent porcelain cups from china, antique slat-cellars, comfit-dishes from feudal times. An ivory ship was sailing under full canvas on the back of an immovable tortoise. A pneumatic machine was poking out the eye of the Emperor Augustus, who remained majestic and unmoved. Several portraits of French aldermen and Dutch burgomasters, insensible now as during their lifetime, rose above this chaos of antiques and cast a cold and disapproving glance at them.

All the countries on earth seemed to have brought here some remnants of their sciences and a sample of their arts. It was a sort of philosophical midden in which nothing was lacking, neither the Red Indian's calumet nor the green and gold slipper of the seraglio, nor the yatogan of the Moor, nor the brazen image of the Tartar. There was even the soldier's tobacco pouch, the ciborium of the priest and the plumes from a throne. Furthermore, these monstrous tableaux were subjected to a thousand accidents of lighting by the whimsical effects of a multitude of reflected gleams due to the confusion of tints and the abrupt contrasts of light and shade. The ear fancied it heard stifled cries, the mind imagined that it caught the thread of unfinished dramas, and the eye that it perceived half-smothered glimmers. Lastly, persistent dust had cast its thin coating over all these objects, whose multiple angles and numerous sinuosities produced the most picturesque of impressions.

To begin with the, the stranger compared these three showrooms, crammed with the relics of civilizations and religions, deities, royalties, masterpieces of art, the products of debauchery, reason and unreason, to a mirror of many facets, each one representing a whole world. After registering this hazy impression, he tried to make a choice of specimens he enjoyed; but, in the process of gazing, pondering, dreaming, he was overcome by a fever which was perhaps due to the hunger which was gnawing at his vitals. His senses ended by being numbed at the sight of so many national and individual existences, their authenticity guaranteed by the human pledges which had survived them.

The longing that had caused him to visit the shop was satisfied: he left real life behind him, ascended by degrees to an ideal world, and reached the enchanted palaces of ecstasy where the universe appeared to him in transitory gleams and tongues of fire; just as, long ago, the future of mankind had filed past in flaming visions before the gaze of Saint John of Patmos.

A multitude of sorrowing faces, gracious or terrifying, dimly or clearly described, remote or near at hand, rose up before him in masses, in myriads, in generations. Egypt in its mysterious rigidity emerged from the sands, represented by a mummy swathed in black bandages; then came the Pharaohs burying entire peoples in order to build a tomb for themselves; then Moses and the Hebrews and the wilderness: the whole of the ancient world, in all its solemnity, drifted before his eyes. But here, cool and graceful, a marble statue posed on a wreathed column, radiantly white, spoke to him of the voluptuous myths of Greece and Ionia. Oh, who would not have smiled, as he did, to see upon a red background, in the fine clay of an Etruscan vase, the brown girl dancing before the god Priapus and joyously saluting him? Facing her was a Latin queen lovingly fondling her chimaera! The capricious pleasures of imperial Rome were there in every aspect: the bath, the couch, the dressing-table ritual of some indolent, pensive Julia awaiting her Tibullus. Armed with the power of Arabian talismans, the head of Cicero evoked memories of republican Rome and unwound for him the scroll of Livy's histories. The young man gazed on the Senatus pupulusque romanus: the consul, the lectors, the purple-edged togas, the fights in the Forum, the plebs aroused to wrath. All this filed past him like the insubstantial figures of a dream.
Then Christian Rome became the dominant theme in these presentations. One painting showed the heavens opened and in it he saw the Virgin Mary bathed in a cloud of gold in the midst of angels, eclipsing the sun in glory, lending an ear to the lamentations of the sufferer on whom this regenerate Eve smiled gently. As he fingered a mosaic made of different lavas from Vesuvius and Etna, in imagination he emerged into sun-drenched Italy: he was an onlooker at the Borgias' feasts, he rode through the Abruzzi, sighed after Italian mistresses, worshipping their pale cheeks and dark, elongated eyes.

Espying a medieval dagger with a hilt as cunningly wrought as a piece of lace, with rust patches on it like bloodstains, he thought with a shudder of mighty trysts interrupted by the cold blade of a husband's sword. India and its religions lived again in an idol dressed in gold and silk with conical cap and lozenge-shaped ear-flaps folded upwards and adorned with bells. Near this grotesque figure a rush mat, as pretty as the Indian dancer who had once rolled herself in it, still exhaled the perfume of sandalwood. The mind was startled into perceptiveness by a monster from China with a twisted gaze, contorted mouth and writhing limbs: the creation of an inventive people weary of unvarying beauty and drawing ineffable pleasure from the luxuriant diversity of ugliness.

A salt-cellar from Benvenuto Cellini's workshop brought him back to the bosom of the Renaissance at a period when art and licence flourished together, when sovereign princes found diversion in torture and prelates at Church Councils rested from their labours in the arms of courtesans after decreeing chastity for mere priests. He saw the conquests of Alexander carved on a cameo, the massacres of Pizarro etched on a match-lock arquebus, the wars of religion -frenzied, seething, pitiless- engraved on the base of a helmet. Then the charming pageantry of chivalry sprang up from a Milanese suit of armour, brightly furnished, superbly damascened, beneath whose visor the eyes of a paladin still gleamed.

For him this ocean of furnishings, inventions, fashions, works of art and relics made up an endless poem. Forms, colours, concepts of thought came to life again; but nothing complete presented itself to his mind. The poet in him had to finish these sketches by the great painter who had composed the vast palette on to which the innumerable accidents of human life had been thrown in such disdainful profusion.”


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Relics


A delicate story of objects, their intimacy with every aspect of a person's existence, the power of evocation they may possess by that very connection, and the necessity of a particular gaze, of a searching imagination to draw their qualities together into a story, the myth of an identity no longer truly approachable, but which can at least be adumbrated through the implements of its lost existence.

"I have bought up all of her belongings that were put on sale -that woman whose friend I would like to have been, and who did not even condescend to talk to me for a few minutes. I have the little card game that kept her amused every evening, her two marmosets, three novels that bear her coat of arms on their boards, and her bitch. Oh, you delights and dear playthings of her life, you had access -without enjoying them as I would have done, and without even desiring them- to all her freest, most inviolable, and most secret hours; you were unaware of your happiness and you cannot describe it.


Cards that she would hold in her fingers every evening with her favourite friend who saw her getting bored or breaking into laughter, who were witnesses to the start of her liaison, and whom she threw down to fling her arms round the man who thereafter came every evening to enjoy a game with her; novels that she would open and close in her bed, as her fancy or her fatigue bade her, chosen by her on impulse or as her dreams dictated, books to which she confided her dreams and combined them with dreams expressed by the books that helped her better to dream for herself -did you retain nothing of her, and can you tell me nothing about her?
Novels; she dreamed in turn the lives of your characters and of your authors; and playing cards, for in her own way she enjoyed in your company the tranquility and sometimes the feverishness of intimate friendships -did you keep nothing of her thoughts, which you distracted or filled, or of her heart, which you wounded or consoled?
Cards, novels, you were so often in her hands, or remained for so long on her table; queens, kings or knaves, who were the still guests at her wildest parties; heroes of novels and heroines who, at her bedside, caught in the cross-beam of her lamp and her eyes, dreamed your silent dream, a dream that was nonetheless filled with voices: you cannot have simply let it evaporate -all the perfume with which the air of her bedroom, the fabric of her dresses, and the touch of her hands or her knees imbued you.
You have preserved the creases left when her joyful or nervous hand crumpled you; you perhaps still keep prisoner those tears which she shed, on reading of a grief narrated in some book, or experienced in life; the day which made her eyes shine with joy or sorrow left its warm hues on you. When I touch you, I shiver, anxiously awaiting your revelations, disquieted by your silence. Alas! Perhaps, like you, charming and fragile creatures, she was the insensible and unconscious witness of her own grace. Her most real beauty existed perhaps in my desire. She lived her life, but perhaps I was the only one to dream it."

Marcel Proust