Sunday, October 06, 2013

Zombie 'Pataphysics in Latvia : The Anti-Kuhn

We - the Pataphysical plural - have been invited to present a paper at the international conference Renew: Media Art Histories, in Riga, the capital of Latvia, this coming week. Here's an abstract of the intervention and a participant in the Riga Zombie Walk. Of course this is part of the general misconception of Zombies as Hollywoodian brain-eaters, but we shall try to educate the masses there that Zombie can be much, much more than this - and far more terrifying in its intellectual implications.

We are the first generation to become less literate by reading, less seeing by looking, less listening by hearing, less communicating by talking, less social by using social media and less revolutionary by making art. Thomas Kuhn’s argument that science proceeds with periods of dominant normality interrupted by paradigm shifts, was important and useful. I use the title ‘Anti-Kuhn’ only in the sense that an antithesis is ‘against’ a thesis. Computer-based art, however, knows no ‘normality’. Every moment is revolutionary, every paradigm is up for grabs. There is no time for the development of a critical discourse, nor to examine the flux properly. When revolution becomes ‘normal’, a transgression occurs. You can’t tell the difference between progress and stasis. Art enters a ‘Zombie’ state, both dead and alive, true and false, one and zero. It becomes undecidable. How do you think and write about, curate and make, art that is undecidable? It is proposed in this comedic, interactive and hopefully revolutionary paper that Post-Media art should be independent of outdating technologies and electricity supplies. What counts in art – surely? – are the ideas, which don’t care about their medium of support or transmission. Ideas are not time based but can be structured in an ‘all-at-once’ way. Then criticism of and discourse about such art must occur in an all-at-once way, with no past, present or even future. We need an art that makes us – viewer, participant, critic, artist – do homework instead of networking. But how? Pataphysics is the absurdist ‘science’ of the impossible, the exception, of imaginary solutions to non-existent problems. I propose to use certain ideas from that discipline to establish the possibility of a new approach to Post Media art, one needing no media at all, Post-Modem, Post-Everything.

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