Tim's work in video and performance aims to develop a discourse around the re-scripting and commodification of reality in a networked society of design, media and education. Within this enquiry, there is particular interest in the objectification of possible realities and how this may influence subjective ideology and the subsequent construction and performance of the self.
‘Interview in Progress’ constitutes documentation of a training model developed in collaboration with a role-play training company that examines the construction and commodification of the self within job interview scenarios.
Through the medium of film, a forum-theatre training performance is played out as a potential manual for re-scripting behaviour. Actors, acting out the possible realities of audience participants, on-stage, objectify and display increasingly dramatised answers as responses to standard job interview questions, aided by a panel of screenwriters.
Observed by and based upon real experiences of audience participants, the re-scripted answers witnessed on stage examine the possibility of obtaining employment through models of narrative-based self transformation. Commenting on the objectification and communication of possible realities within contemporary media practice, viewers of the film are exposed to an applicable methodology of re-scripting and offered the opportunity to reflect upon the value of truth and entertainment in a world of self-improvement media and education.
Strange transformations are generated in the credits of John Carpenter´s 1982 film "The Thing". As the seconds go by, reading becomes more difficult due to the progressive mixing of the names to the point in which nothing is recognizable. The copy-paste of the credits from Christian Nyby´s (or Howard Hawks´s?) 1951 film "The Thing From Another World and Matthijs van Heijningen´s 2011 remake of the prequel, have been infiltrated in this video generating glitches, that end up fusing the identities of the cast members of the three movies aforementioned. The suspicion syndrome surrounds us.
Manufacturing a New Value System for Harlem is a project about the gentrification of Harlem and includes photography, video, text, and performance. I have completed over 100 videos. The videos include spaces in Harlem and words I collected in the area. For video #70 I used the words I found to say the following: Making a slave generation building on the false premise of liberty and improving Harlem and the world.
The topics of my artistic practise and research in fine arts raise cultural, ethical and political questions and I negotiated those in various geographical contexts with meaningful and meaningless; intangible and tangible contents.
A documentary footage starts with a fade-in shot of a bookshelf section in a public bookstore. The presented books are mostly monographs and biographies of public figures; some still alive, others passed away. Occasionally, customers and staff members walk-by the display. The video then fades to black. The audio track is comprised of ambient sounds such as the store’s background music, people’s conversations and action noises.
This impromptu is a tribute to Marcel Duchamp's "Nude descending the staircase N2" (1912) and Georges Braque's "Women with a guitar" 1913 paintings. Through experimental sounds, dance and movement with an acoustic guitar, I tried to embody both paintings. The idea of the argument at the footsteps of Tate Britain is questioning the status of the Museum. Also both artists went in different directions with their art works.
Robert is an artist, mathematician and composer who focuses on systems and processes (computational, biological, social). He is involved in the number of projects focused on radical art strategies, hacktivism and tactical media. Drawing upon conceptual art, software art and meta-media, his work intentionally defies categorization. Lisek is a pioneer of art based on AI and bioinformatics. He also explores the relationship between bio-molecular technology, code and issues arising from network technologies by combining his DNA code with codes of viruses and recently by testing influence of radioactive materials on biological entities.
Project poses fundamental questions concerning randomness and computation. Nowadays, many procedures based on simulation of random processes lie at the basis of practical applications in banking, stock market, games, in security systems etc. Main goal of project is generating totally random sequence of numbers by using quantum processes from decay of radioactive materials as Thorium. This sequence is great cryptographic key that can not be break by any intelligence agency.
Generating random numbers is not easy. People are extremely bad at generating random sequences. People behave in a mechanic and repetitive manner. Human brain aims to conceive reality within periodic sequences and patterns. The existing computing machines don't generate random sequences; the so called pseudo-generators of random numbers are periodic. This is way the project deals with quantum level randomness from decay of radioactive materials as Thorium. Quantum mechanics is believed to be fundamentally non-deterministic and it shows that randomness operates on certain level of our reality.
Human brain aims to conceive reality within periodic sequences and patterns. The existing computing machines don't generate random sequences; the so called pseudo-generators of random numbers are periodic. This is way the project deals with quantum level randomness from decay of radioactive materials as Thorium. Quantum mechanics is believed to be fundamentally non-deterministic and it shows that randomness operates on certain level of our reality.
Sam is a writer and editor from London. He is the founding director of the journal of Philosophy, Poetry and Politics, Inky Needles, and also an editor for the online poetry platform, Poejazzi. He is currently studying for a Masters in Contemporary Literature, Culture and Theory at Kings College, London.
Sam Stolton confronts the oscillating cycles of an aesthetic transmissibility in late capitalist discourse networks. The condom, the teacup, the window – the design of these modern furnishings are constituents in (un)ethical normalizations and social customs. Stolton calls for a comprehensive overhaul of such product-formations and meaning-giving-references subsequent to perceptive engagements, in order to accustom society to a discipline of aestheticism more attuned to ethical practices.
‘The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition…always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning.’
Before any examination into what we can call the ‘new aesthetics’ of tomorrow can begin, we must first equip ourselves with the apparatus to
surgically deconstruct this worrying phrase, the ‘new aesthetic.’ This initial lexicological examination will commence with an enquiry into the more elementary
of the two words, the ‘new.’ The ‘new’ may be described as something originating
most recently, something appearing for the first time, a presence that has been
actuated, either by development, accident or causal activity. The ‘new’ may not yet be evidential, but there is nevertheless always undeniable proof for the fact that ‘new’ occurrences, forms and ideas will come. By what means however? This is a fruit that we must seize upon ourselves, a fruit that does not yet exist, but that we must prophetically flavour and digest before our capitalist adversaries. The ‘new’therefore, is beyond trends or consistencies, and is only concrete in its form, the very fact that it will come to shape content and dissolve ideals and agendas through society. We therefore, must be the labourers of such content.
This brings me on rather appropriately to the second term for our consideration, the ‘aesthetic,’ of which can afford the content for the ‘new’. Now the issue with
aestheticism in the modern day is the fact that not only its context, but also the values of its formality are quite magnificently unstable. What the early moderns attempted
to harmonise was the definitive nature of aesthetic attainment. For them, aesthetic determination was standardized to a common beautification; the guilty parties propagating such a severe and elitist claim included the names of Baumgarten, Kant and Schiller. The comprehensive nature of Kant’s aesthetic determination I believe is provocative of a reducibility toward which forms illustrate the portrait of beauty and therefore the ideal aesthetic. We can all comprehend the possibility of beauty to be, and in such an instance, this judgement then applies a funct ioning authenticity to Kant’s theory of the Understanding. Beauty, judged subjectively, but nevertheless, moderated through the faculty of the Understanding, can be authorised, and the fact that the faculty of the Understanding is comprehensible and attuned to and for the functionality of judgement merits its actuality and therefore, on this occasion, Kant’s claim. But, however, why does the ideal aesthetic have to commune with a judgemental facility that, through sense experience, awards receptive interaction with a hierarchical beautification? The qu estion I am posing here is simply, why does the aesthetic have to pertain to a graduated scale of beauty? Kant’s theories, although incredibly difficult to disprove, I argue, fault at these crossroads. Aestheticism is dependent on a preordained faculty of Understanding, yes, that fact itself is almost impossible to disprove, but where beauty comes into the equation I don ’t know.
Aestheticism and productive art-making up to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most evidently up to the demise of Romanticism, held a popular standardization of beatified art productio n. However, the most vital and absolute consideration here, that will, quite frankly, subvert this commonly held belief, is that art is not only restricted to establishment, representation, staging and framing, but is rather the form of everything all around us, the form of the mind. For all objects, constructions, tables, glasses, street signs, bus stations, mobile phones, boo ks, beer bottles, roads, sheds, teacups, windows, toilets, condoms, chewing gum, paint, and computers et al are art, are the aesthetic. They are not all designed toward a common agenda of re presentational beauty, they are designed for a plethora of reasons, practicality,efficiency, purposefulness and usefulness. In the age of late capitalism, the design of many forms is reliant on its functionality as an object of fiscal profitability. The general purpose for many is designing an object that, by various means will maximise the potential for a monetary enterprise. L et us return to this expression, the ‘form of the mind.’ Such a phrase will no doubt chronicle a relation toward Plato’s ‘Ideal Forms’ and Aristotelian hylomorphism, and as we are concerned with aesthetics, we are able, for the purpose of this argument, to present Plato’s postulations in a light that corresponds more succinctly to the modern socio-political disposition of aesthetics.
‘No Man ever steps into the same river twice,’ the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus claimed. He was referring to the impermanency of materiality, the changeability of
appearances. Therefore, how is it possible for one to afford a permanent integrity to materiality, as their fashioning always appears to effectuate consistent abstractions.
Of course, such occurrences make the very enquiry of which this essay concerns itself possible. The fact is that aesthetics are fully mutable. But what really changes from
generation to generation, from cultures to societies? It is not the material fashioning of the object itself, but the eidetic form of objects. The perfectives behind the
deceptive appearances, the blossoming wounds underneath the skin of materiality, the haunting animations of the Ideal Form. The regeneration of aesthetics therefore, must
first concern itself with what is beyond the form, the ideals that are feeding the manifestations of the outwardly form. How do we know if a particular of aestheticism is ever really ideolog ically wrong if we have known no other way? How do we really know that corporate capitalism is horrifyingly diseased with immorality if we have not the direct experience of an alternative? T he answer is simple; because as humans we have been afforded with a deterministic faculty that is fully aware of the differences between right and wrong, the contrasting horizons of good and bad. Allow me to return to Kant. This is what he called the ‘categorical imperative’. Kant’s supreme moral principle, the law that there is an authoritative infrastructure a
priori to all behavioural and instinctive externalities and manifestations was proposed as a means to correspond with the Universality of morality. Where is this unchangeable, immutable facu lty derived from? Kant’s perspective states that rationality is the most substantial informant to objective morality. Anything that diverges from this commonality is entirely wrong or bad, under any circumstance whatsoever, there is a right and there is a wrong and they are concrete and unchangeable. The non-negotiability of the categorical imperative can therefore be rel ated to Plato’s world of permanence, the world of perfect Forms and Ideas. Just as external actions more often than not provide a harsh divergence from the undeviating form of morality, the material world is but a mere shadow, an artificial thread in the tapestry of the world of perfect forms.
Kant however was not naïve. Although his proposal suggested a Universality that explicitly resounds, through the voice of reason, the pursuing agents of right and
wrong, morality is nevertheless completely naked, and remains exposed to corruption. Such a corruption, Kant suggested, is made in the resistance against the three maxims
that comprise the categorical imperative. Such being, firstly, the status of the Universal in representing a commonality in action, that, if obeyed by the populous
would be comprehensively dutiful and righteous, an action that would be appraised with general moral commendation. The second maxim states that every human be
afforded the dignity of being treated as a product in themselves, rather than as a productive towards an ulterior motive, they must be treated as an ends rather than a
means. Lastly, Kant believed that in order to fulfil the principles of the categorical imperative, one must bestow themselves with the integrity of a moral advocator, a discursive evangelist in the standards of good and bad. That is not to say that this must be executed in a pretentious and self-righteous manner, but rather through behavioural formats that establish the sense of a general moral authority. Why are these three ethical standards so imperative when considering aesthetics? The perspective that will shine a dawning light on this question is the fact that the political agenda of capitalism severely clashes with Kant’s categorical imperative, and therefore it is possible for us to take the viewpoint that the practice of such an economic system, that the products subsequent produced, cannot be considered an ethical affair.
Today’s circus-market of laissez-faire, neo-liberalist capitalism is approximated to be exercised by eighty percent of the world’s nations, and it is somewhat obvious, due to
the germinating economic disease that has infected many of us, that such a widespread operation of capitalism is only serving as a means to entice catastrophe
and subsequent corruption into day to day life. A distinct example today of capitalism directly opposed to maxim number one. Kant's second principle is perhaps
the most obvious standard that capitalism collides with. The point of significance here is productive ‘roles.’ We are ‘produced’ and concurrently ‘produce’ ourselves in succumbing to the offerings of vocations and public and private conventions. We must sustain ourselves economically, we must be the tailors of our own personal fiscal
suiting. As such, money, an object of continual and incessant acquisition, demands the appropriation of a role, of something committing to this objective of acquisition.
The role must be profitable and productive to the agenda of capitalism, otherwise it is useless. In such instances, people are treated as a means and not as an end, and thus
rather clearly it is evident that capitalism opposes maxim number two. The third maxim must be considered with regards to the translation of capitalism’s charitable
hierarchies, as those deemed the highest of moral advocators to us today, are those who commit to charitable causes. The ecological principles bred as part of the postmodern
imperative towards a cultural capitalism that can cater for the deteriorating needs of mother earth, may be seen as an example of capitalism attempting to
disseminate moral and ethical agents as part of the processes of its own operation. Slavoj Žižek, in his 2009 lecture at the RSA, entitled, First as Tragedy, Then As
Farce, uses the example of Starbucks Coffee’s very public fair-trade campaign and ethical priorities as a means of subsuming the ecological determinants with the
burgeoning capitalists of the late twentieth century. Žižek talks of a system of ‘global capitalism with a human face,’ and a circuit of consumption that allows the possibility for a ‘cheap, charitable optimism.’ Of course, an investment of public money weaved through the tapestry of private enterprise may be of charitable benefit, but there is an element of hypocrisy that shadows over such causes. In the fulfilment of ethical duties, consumers cater for their own sense of guilt propagated by the anti-egalitarian
nature of global markets, but in doing so, do not eliminate the problem of such devastations as poverty, but sustain them in merely treating the disease but never
diminishing it. In this sense, charity only looks as far as the products of poverty, as opposed to the causes of poverty in the first place. The issue is that the modern
customs of cultural capitalism in fact take advantage of disturbing issues, appealing to our sense of guilt, and enticing this guilt to favour a product for consumption by
applying a charitable investment to the product itself. Capitalism therefore profits from the devastation of such causes as poverty, and thus eliminates any moral
imperative, and as such, the only distinct contextual example of certain promulgations in Kant’s third maxim; that people should act as moral advocators, can essentially be
declared null of any ethical enterprise whatsoever. The conclusion therefore, is that the economic system and the political and social infrastructure of capitalism, at the
state it is in today, is perhaps one of the most unequivocal examples of an unethical practice.
The above argument is only licensed, however, by its merit to one of the greatest Deontologists of all time. If one does not subscribe to Kant’s ethical enquiry, then the examination falls short in delineating capitalism’s modus operandi as unethical. Nevertheless, if there was ever an exploration that sought to distance itself from cultural standardizations, and move towards a common Universality that transcends all social, political and religious circuits, all authoritarian pluralities and all epistemological disparities, Kant’s voyage into moral cohesion can be said to do so. So when considering a ‘new’ aesthetics, this emphasis on the ‘new’ has the propensit to validate itself with a renewed morality. For the ‘new’ to authenticate itself most distinctly, it has to commune with the definition of its type that we established at the beginning of this essay. That which is not fashion nor the form of fashion, that which is concrete only in the unknowable nature of the forms that it can bring-forth. It must be desperately revolutionary and it must be conceived in abject, it must be designed with the wretched flavours of corporate capitalism still writhing in our mouths, and it must be born alive, kicking and screaming from the rotten and foul vulva of seduced capitalist players. True enough, the new must be born as the bastard children bred from the prostitutes of capitalism.
The new aesthetic must saturate itself entirely in capitalism. It must, in its design, comprise of everything that capitalism has today come to represent. The
comprehensive and total corruption of morality. And therein lies the basis for the devisal of the new aesthetic. The renegotiation of morality. For we can only know of
the morality that we seek by the immorality that we have been served. As we have discussed, morality, an abstraction and subjective existent in itself, and today,
dangerously fragmented, the remains of a once conceived and concrete aestheticism torn apart by modernity and the subsequent large-scale commoditization of aesthetics,
needs to be threaded into a textile of new aesthetics that shall come to comprise of these new qualities, principles and standards. It will come as domino-effect,
engendered, before anything else, by a disciplined approach to the renegotiation of behavioural standards.
Capitalism has established a cast of actors, a plethora of roles in its monopolising game that the vast majority of us adhere to. With such performances comes a set of indoctrinated behavioural types, such as greed, indulgence and a violent want for instant gratification, accumulation and consumability It is up to us to be the bearers of changing such archetypes. Only in changing the players of the game, will the game then change itself. The point is that we are the game anyway, so in re-producing our behavioural instincts, we shall re-produce the products of our production. And then will come the flood of new clothing, new music, new packaging, new homes and new money. They will come in a form that unfortunately none of us currently know of, however desperate our attempts be to conceive of their outwardly design. We however, do know of the Platonic Idea behind the design of tomorrow’s forms. How do we know? Because we know of a Universal morality that the current establishment clashes with. We do not agree with the current form of things, because they all reflect a political agenda that is evidently failing.
Of a necessary instalment into modern modes of interaction therefore, are a series of distinct behavioural adaptations. In order for us to decipher precisely in what manner and form these behavioural adaptations must arise, we must critically identify the cultural nature of the modern age. Of what aesthetic determination will individuals of the future look back at this time as? Western civilization, in the second most distinct time in modern history is in a period of post-terrorist thought. The first most obvious occasion, occurred as The Reign of Terror, a period of extreme violence in the French revolution culminating in the frenzied massacre of ten of thousands of individuals across France. The Re ign of Terror has been characterized in the foreboding symbolism of the gyllotine and that period in the revolution probably stood as the most defining terroristic aspect of the mutiny, which in part contributed to the conception that an act of extreme violence can invoke a fundamental divorce from systems of governance, social abuse and humiliation.
The events of September 11th led to a global ‘War on Terror’, led by the United States and the United Kingdom that engaged in a military campaign directed against Islamic militants. Today, the War on Terror can be said to be slowly fading into the recesses of history somewhat, with the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, but what comes of this post-terror period exactly? And what can history teach us of acts of terror that have become to the public eye? The French revolution was imperative in formatting liberal democracies, secularism and the growth of ideological republicanism, even if Napoleon then sought to reinstate an imperial monarchy. This post-terror period however, is wholly more global, and thus requires a comprehensive renegotiation of ontological terror-formats.
‘Fear’ therefore, is perhaps the most common cultural ‘nature’ of the modern day. A bifurcation of fear that has been sourced from two distinct origins. Fear of terrorism, induced my media-communication and discursive techno-interaction. And a fear of ‘pure’ ethics, provoked by capitalism’s cultural involvement in geological proposals
and charitable causes, that serve the most minute fulfilment of morals, but do not, in any instance whatsoever, contribute to conceiving of ‘a’ moral(s) in a given context.
The issue is, we are provided with a standardized set of morals that are declared fit and necessary for cultivation. This however, allows no room for a new ethics that can
accommodate a post-terrorist age, a set of retrospective principles that may be installed to question the very ethics of capitalism itself. The ‘fear’ of a pure,
subjective ethics, unbound by socio-political context hinders us from questioning capitalisms ethical disposition. And as such, if we are too fearful to question the
ethics of a political governance, we shall not question the aesthetics of such cultural authorities and therefore can not even begin to talk of renegotiating aesthetics to cater
more aptly for a contextual environment. The age has changed, and subliminally, we have changed, cultural fear illustrates the behavioural adaptations of the modern day
and we must now seek to adapt this.
As such, the distinct manner and form of general behavioural adaptations that would in time effectuate an aesthetic remodelling must come with, I would argue, the
commitment to three specific disciplines, as follows;
1. Act with a Virginity of Ideological Thought
Behave in a manner that has not actively engaged as per the demands of commercial or political influence. Do not make decisions on the authorization of any social external infrastructure. Purge any political or social ideology from the underside of your mind, and charge the vacant chambers of thought with a renewed morality that serves as a subjective determinant. You are not born into a law, you are not born into a politics, you are simply born into a body. Nonetheless, acknowledge the discursive systems of governance that have moulded a generation of systemized behavioural functions. Recognize that such behavioural functions, as well as aesthetics have become fundamentally a ‘spectacle,’ in order to correspond with capitalism’s economic principles. In addition, realize that the role of media is to terrorise the public into a state of consumption, whereby media institutions attempt to maximise the economic utility of their own self-interested practice. Media coverage is caused to favour an absolute outcome that contributes to the overwhelming objective of financial profitability. The integrity of media is therefore compromised by political influence. Do not allow your mind, judgements, or ethics to be compromised by political influence. Act with a virginity of ideological thought.
2. De-Spectacalize Behavioural Instincts
The ‘spectacle’ is a founding property of late capitalism. The spectacalization of modern society, through aesthetics, has come as a means to maximise profit potential. This can be noticed in such circumstances as the distinct design and branding associations of products. Items are formatted toward an association of meaning, that acts as a representational instrument in governing an identity through the dissemination of spectacalized associations. Advertising acquires an image or identity that it deems to be marketable, and therefore profitable, and attempts to apply meaning to its product by manufacturing a representation from the obtained identity.
The spectacle itself holds no weight or authority to us, but rather the projection of associations applied to an image or spectacle constitutes its ‘meaning’. The meaning giving reference of objects and items therefore has been radically renegotiated in order to harmonize with capitalism’s economical policies. What delineates an item is simply its spectacle, its image, its brand, its fashion, it style. This violent charge of material standardization has corrupted the elementary forms of visual human interaction to the extent whereby we now see ourselves as a spectacle. Such malfeasances have infiltrated behavioural instincts, we talk, move, and dress as per the associations of meaning that have become the social archetype for the format of identity we require. We perform an identity through the way we talk, move and dress. These identities are bound by the restrictions of cultural context; in another generation such identities would not have had the opportunity to come into being. Such behavioural instincts bred from standardized identities that have been spectacalized in order to appear obvious, attractive and accessible, cast a stage of characters in the capitalist agenda and as such they comply with a politics of which is hindered by a self-interest and a materialism that clouds moral judgement. As judgements are made in the performance of an identity, a contextual ethics appears that is not perennial or eternal and is fundamentally specific to cultural identity formats. In order to access an authentic, timeless moral compass, we must bare ourselves absolutely to natural behavioural instincts that are not determined by political factors. We must let them develop naturally without the intervention of any political partialities or inclinations be they favoured or not. In turn this will allow the meaning-giving reference of items and objects to appear as they are, themselves without any favouritism toward a particular objective. A body will be a body, an item of clothing will simply be an item of clothing, a box will be a box. The purposefulness of physical objects shall overcome the capitalist materialist emphasis of spectacle referencing and identitymeaning. De-spectualize behavioural instincts and aesthetics shall essentially be disrobed of false representation. This can be achieved by appearing as ‘mute’ as possible to spectral inclinations, such as, disciplining interactive guidelines – i.e. processing sense data in such a manner that the products of a cause of sense data reception (which is essentially the emotional outcome of retrieving a certain form of sense data) are based simply on the reality of the situation and are not derived from the mutated variations of sensual reception that politics has corrupted with meaning giving reference archetypes. For example, if someone is to get upset by being insulted by another person then this is irrational, as no reality has been passed or formed, just the act of being insulted is deemed as a negative, as such an act supposedly contributes to forming social sub-hierarchies, and by being insulted, it is widely accepted that the recipient to the insult be deemed as an inferior, as there must be a common social rationale for the insult to be warranted in the first place. This is of course incorrect, as the insult is more likely to have been effectuated in fact of the insulter, and as such the insult itself is more about the insulter than it is the insultant. A move away from fictionalized emotional spectacles is vital in communicative processes in order to influence the eventual redesign of aesthetics, as de-spectualizing behavioural processes will eventually ease the mind of an illusionary fear that dominates interactive standardizations and that has been installed to correspond with capitalism’s socio-economic principles.
3. Centrality of Bodily Communication
Without the embodiment that the domain of physicality affords us, we would be absent from a first point of communication with external realities. Empirical knowledge as an exclusive epistemological principle is somewhat undemanding in proving the downfalls of its premise, but nonetheless there is an impasse to those who deny its relevance in body-centrality theory. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in his 1945 chef d’ouvre, entitled The Phenomenology of Perception, stated that ‘the body is our general medium for having a world,’ and as such, it is our sole source for direct experiential interaction. Merleau-Ponty’s viewpoint is a most useful theoretic devise to bring corporeality back to the forefront of ontological considerations. It has, over the course of late capitalism, been pervaded by those symptomatic conditions of commercial materialization that serve to hypostatize the body into a dead matter for decoration. Physicality has become disembodied and has been overruled as a source for signification, instead being replaced by those discursive practices of spectualization. If we are to defeat the aesthetics that we know of, the most explicit practice that we can undertake is to discard the heavy dressing of materialization and commit just to the integrities of bodily-communication. That is to say, we use our bodies as the most central source for communication and not what we dress our bodies with in terms of clothing and interactive performances. We communicate solely with the apparatus that the have been bequeathed with and use no other communicative media to do so.
Igor Stravinsky once said that ‘everything new does something to harm old,’ and the new that we seek in its gradual, cumulative processes, will sculpt new forms that shall present to us the new moralities that we, in the first place seeded in order to blossom into a new aesthetics. Stravinsky followed that quote with ‘and each age creates its own needs,’ and the most desperate need today is to meet with the immoralities of corporate capitalism and decipher how to gently pervade those established standards with the moralities that we believe the political systems have most explicitly corrupted. My suggestion, therefore, in order to consider the new aesthetics of tomorrow, is to facilitate the inauguration of a renewed adaptation of behavioural consistencies that correspond to Kant’s categorical imperative and reflect a Universal morality of which seems to have become so tragically shrouded and forgotten under the heavy veil of corporate capitalism. Only then will the form of things start to manifest and only then will Aesthetico-Ethics begin to catalyse a social, political and cultural revolution.
The Samuel Gray Society is an autofictional project inspired, in part, by the increasing level of scholarship and activity in the field of Micro-history paired with the increasing level of established journalistic bias and partisan revisionism embedded in our modern media. My strategy appropriates common research modalities and presents visual archives to selectively insert particular and eccentric information into a dialogue based on the discrepancies between truth and myth. This project involves two significant undertakings. The first is the collection and publication of scholarship regarding relevant aspects of 18th century American history. The second is the continued management and expansion of artifacts housed in the SGS visual archives. The website is presented in an academic, encyclopedic, yet subversive manner that supports thoughtful questions regarding contemporary or historical analysis, while critiquing unexamined signifiers of faction and sloganeering disguised as legitimate information.
The Samuel Gray Society officially went live online in 2009 as an educational organization dedicated to the preservation of 18th century American history and to the biography of Samuel Gray, the first man killed in the Boston Massacre. The SGS is a vehicle I created to investigate the historic record of our nation's founding in an autofictional format. The term autofiction refers to the synthesis of fiction and autobiography, and is used frequently in literary strategies. The website currently contains twenty-three pages of written historic research with citations, a visual archive of over fifty-five individual works of art, a print suite, an archaeological excavation, a related political action committee, and four videos, including a thirty-minute documentary on the Revolutionary history of the Hudson Valley, NY.
To quote the historian M.I. Finley in his book Ancient History, “Accuracy and truth are not synonymous...”. He refers to the gaps in our knowledge, and the tenuous nature of truth and scholarship with respect to the past—a past that is both inaccessible and interwoven with various prejudices both conscious and unconscious. I present my work in such a way as to make clear the role of questioning and critically examining information as a method for understanding ourselves and reasoning the world around us.
Language is very important. By substituting words such as believe for know, and using verbs such as presume as opposed to determine, I intentionally deny specificity and avoid the rigors of objective verification or any scientific methodology. These phrases have the added value of appearing as honest, ubiquitous and innocent synonyms for more exacting language, a curiosity that all successful politicians have learned in their spin classes. Belief is not a substitute for verity...in fact, to replace either word for the other demeans each equally. But in truth, it happens everyday, and I have learned that one can say a great deal about very little and get by quite well.
It is undeniable that we now live in an era increasingly rationalized through relative truths, which are natural and in many ways beneficial by-products of pluralism and post modernism. This is reflected in the reality that today, it is possible for you to have your truth and I to have mine. Just as there is your news source and there is my news source, each cooking their information according to our appetites. And of course, as a result of this, there is your version of history and there is mine. Almost nothing is known about the life of Samuel Gray, which is why I chose him, and like a poet or playwright, or for that matter, a judge, a general, a preacher, or a senator, I intend to insert my narrative where there is an opening. In this way, history is an act of creation--a ripe mixture of certitude and mythology.
A renaissance of amateur 18th century American historicism can be clearly evidenced today in the amorphous factions of Tea Party affiliates throughout the country. The sloganeering of these party platforms is intentionally romantic, lofty and vague, and presumes a more distilled noble age of American exceptionalism somehow bound in the era of our founders. It is a more conspicuous example of history as fiction than I could ever conjure, for even as they demand liberty, their nostalgia forsakes among other things the presence of slavery and sexism that would impede the freedom of 60 percent or more of the American population. And herein lies the rub, and the danger--that narratives of historical relativism frequently operate not by rewriting history, as many critics erroneously point out, for that requires too active and too conspicuous a role in the drama. Rather, historical relativism often operates through a selective shopping for facts to support a pre-existing view, leaving contradictions, complications or obstacles that get in the way of tidy conclusions on the shelves to expire like bad milk. Of course the irony in this, is that it is this very openness of history that created the possibility of pluralistic art. What Arthur Danto calls "posthistorical" is the state of contemporary art wherein it answers to no external precedent or qualifications outside of itself.