The show features work by Kristen Alvanson, Hans Bellmer, Liz Deschenes, Thomas Eggerer, Rachel Harrison, Gareth James, Alison Knowles, Sam Lewitt, Scott Lyall, R. H. Quaytman, Eileen Quinlan, Raha Raissnia, Jimmy Raskin, Blake Rayne, Pamela Rosenkranz, Pieter Schoolwerth, Amy Sillman, and Cheyney Thompson.
In an unprecedented overlapping of the contexts of philosophical, financial, and art worlds, this event brought together in discussion Robin Mackay (director of Urbanomic), Reza Negarestani (author of Cyclonopedia), Elie Ayache (author of The Blank Swan), and Matthew Poole (freelance curator, writer, and director of The Centre for Curatorial Studies at The University of Essex).
The public discussion event on January 19th 2011, 6.30-8pm, explored how works of art write contingency into the present, and are in turn written by the contingency of their materials, and how these exchanges interact with other markets - between capitals, and subtracted from all prevision and possibility.
On the basis of contemporary philosophies of contingency, options trader-turned-philosopher Elie Ayache proposes that we think the market outside the terms of probability and prediction. The mathematical instruments used to value exotic financial derivatives, he argues, do not calculate price on the basis of a range of future probabilities, but directly and effectively write price as the contingent reality of the market now. The market is not a set of probabilities, but the medium of contingency - a regime of events neither probable nor improbable (Nassim Taleb's 'Black Swan'), but effective without prevision or reason - 'The Blank Swan'.
Ayache compares the act of writing options contracts with literary creation, as a material inscription of difference directly in the real, creating a future that is in principle unforeseeable. We can also compare it to the work of artists who, as Abreu has noted, have issued works as promissory notes (Sam Lewitt), devoted them to "the symbolic understanding that works of art are in progress: the real show is still coming" (Scott Lyall), and arrested the image at the formal moment when "everything is still possible" (Liz Deschenes). These works are written in the hope and knowledge that the interaction of their anticipations will create in the now the reality of an exchange of art and thought. They can thus be considered "technologies of the future ... but only insofar as we wish that the difference they will make in the future may make a difference today" (Ayache).
Reza Negarestani has written that, although one can instrumentalise and impose authorial intention within a medium, a work will always itself be 'worked' by its materials, which influence and interfere with it, pursuing their own contingent tendencies and conspiracies. Negarestani suggests that the 'chemistry of openness' required to engage with this contingent reality proceeds not through artistic decisions concerning expression or 'sensitivity to materials', but through a 'rigorous closure' of the work that 'lures' the outside in.
According to Ayache, a work engages the real by refusing the controlling re-presentation of possibility and probability and committing inscription directly to the medium of contingency. For Negarestani, we include the contingency of matter in the work by entering into a 'complicity with anonymous materials'. The work therefore faces contingency 'on both sides'.
Matthew Poole's recent work has focused on the concept of 'Human Capital' as a reality of neo-liberal politics and post-fordist capitalism that deeply problematises a humanist conception of the sovereignty of the private individual self and the sovereignty of art. The role of the curator under the conditions of neo-liberalism is a fascinating conflation of guardian and lawmaker within the various markets of art, such as the commercial, intellectual, and social markets, where we see a total collapse of distinctions between these categories. In this state of affairs it is argued that art loses its sovereignty and becomes a radically contingent object of exchange, or indeed it becomes a currency, where its very being is simply the fragile momentary manifestation or coagulation of a dynamic shifting set of values.
UF24 04 03 13 SPECULATIVE AESTHETICS ROUNDTABLE
Research roundtable addressing open questions regarding the relation between aesthetics and new forms of philosophical realism
UF22 20 11 12 THE DEGROWTH OF PHILOSOPHY: FOR A GENERIC ECOLOGY
Lecture by François Laruelle
UF21 18 11 12 ABDUCTING THE OUTSIDE: MODERNITY AND THE CULTURE OF ACCELERATION
Lecture by Reza Negarestani
UF20 15 11 12 THE NON-TRIVIAL GOAT AND THE CLIFFS OF THE UNIVERSAL
Performance in New York with Florian Hecker and Reza Negarestani.