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Re: <nettime> Claire Bishopâs Game: Subversive
Will Jackson on Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:07:30 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Claire Bishopâs Game: Subversive


Claire Bishop's radical compliance is most compellingly argued for in the fo=
llowing passage:

> the saga suggests why a new term was required that retained an aesthetic d=
imension whilst dispensing with much of the onerous historical baggage.

This "certain historical amnesia" is obscured by Bishop's considerable resea=
rch and deft sewing of seemingly disparate social, political, and artistic t=
hreads. Relatively dry tracts of analysis are animated by fascinating anecdo=
tal evidence. Her writing can be enjoyable enough that I forget my critical f=
aculties, thank goodness. But more to the point, "the social turn" put again=
st Tactical Media illuminates an interesting schism. By your light "the soci=
al turn" is sanitized of recent historical influences, whereas Tactical Medi=
a is a framing specifically tuned to the historical. My art project which in=
tervenes in the tradition of Tactical Media will probably be read with an ey=
e towards previous reorganizations of communication, e.g. John Nevil Maskely=
ne's "hack" of the first "secure" wireless telegram. My art project in the t=
radition of social practice might (now) be more in dialogue with the massive=
 reenactment of key Bolshevik uprisings. Both reframings would probably have=
 to be addressed in some kind of expository text accompanying the work, that=
 is, we are likely splitting hairs (but it can be fun and rewarding to do so=
). The social turn forsakes the "post war cybernetic paradigm," is in short,=
 farsighted. Enough of this rehashing! Now we reach my prescription: Bishop a=
rgues under a suppressed premise for Art proper as a dialogue necessarily me=
diated by institutions, precisely the ones circumnavigated or prodded by int=
erventionist politics.

A key feature of Ranci=C3=A8re's writing on art is the resurrection of figur=
es important in their own time, now relatively forgotten, and placing them a=
longside canonical works / careers. Curiously, and in support of your point t=
hat Bishop never intends to draw blood from the hand which feeds, she shies a=
way from such bathos. She mostly reinscribes celebrated and relatively under=
 appreciated artists. Importantly, they are often involved with academia in s=
ome manner.

Bishop's narrative sticks to the most concrete manipulations of sensory expe=
rience - representation, sculpture, and performance. Tactical Media might no=
t sit comfortably alongside these entrenched methodologies of art. The Tacti=
cal Media Wikipedia page, whose footnotes read like an index of Nettime's to=
rchbearers, reminds me why I might not categorize Nettime or Tactical Media a=
s art: "practices that engage and critique the dominant political [artistic]=
 and economic order," might do well to distance themselves from the channels=
 of power they play in. (Although one of my favorite artists, Claire Fontain=
e, demolishes this argument elegantly). That is to say they occupy, for me, a=
 privileged space in my life separate from art! Of course, Nettime never cla=
imed art as its domain, but I believe a conversation nearly as old as myself=
, which provokes and unsettles my worldview near-daily, might be the closest=
 thing there is to an institution of intervention vis-a-vis Tactical Media.

In a final bid for situating Tactical Media and Nettime within a framework p=
roper to their aims, as endeavors in their own right rather than the red-hea=
ded stepchildren the brittle and institutional regime of art, allow me two p=
assages from Montaigne:

... observe how Caesar spreads himself when he tells us about his ingenuity i=
n building bridges and siege-machines .... His exploits are sufficient proof=
 that he was an outstanding general: he wants to be known as something rathe=
r different: a good engineer.

And,

I cannot remain fixed within my disposition and endowments. Chance plays a g=
reater part in all this than I do. The occasion, the company, the very act o=
f using my voice, draw from my mind more than what I can find there when I e=
xercise it and try it out all by myself. [A] And that is why the spoken word=
 is worth more than the written =E2=80=93 if a choice can be made between th=
ings of no value.

Footnotes, citations available on request

Will Jackson
Nobody at Large


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