A pleasure to hear back from you again. The notion that I am sat here, collaborating with someone all the way across the world in Manila is extraordinary. I guess we get so used to living with such amenities. Technology is omnipresent, but from time to time I see it afresh and have to pinch myself.
Regardless of all that, I loved reading your comment on constructive dissent. Thats usually my go-to phrase when discussing our dissent programme. Building alternatives, constructing an opposition, aspiring to an evolved engagement.
When you talk about bringing stories to the surface, I think that’s exactly what the creative process can do. Revealing narratives, or creating new ones are part and parcel of our approach.
I’ve been working with some digital approaches recently, and have been keen to attempt just that: take the raw, unfiltered perception, and build upon it. As we abstract ever further away from the source material, we provide the opportunity to contrast and mix with other contexts. New ideas emerge. Alternatives and understandings are generated. Or not. Sometimes seeds will just fall on un-fertile soil. We’ll still try though!
As the Block_Chain time is officially up now, and it’s time for a bit of reflection, I was thinking about the role of dissent in the context of our interaction. Its been a minimal engagement from my part, and there have definitely been some thoughts prepped for development. Your observations, particularly that one about blind spots will be taken forward, I think. So much of what interests me here is related to how we perceive the world around us. The understanding of our individual realities, if you like. The slit-scan process that I have been playing with has been an interesting metaphor for that. Its a single-pixel wide (but more if coded differently) and views the world though its static, predefined narrowness. It subtracts close to an entirety of the world through the limited scope. Manipulating the process yields something entirely different. The static world becomes dynamic. Like you wrote “..trying to find movement in something that hinders movement.” Duration enters the picture frame, and more is revealed. As I play with it more, I’m able to introduce elements of randomness that supersede my own control. I’ve tried to nudge it along as a visual echo of Karen’s tape-works.
Perhaps the biggest dissent for me though has been the break from habit. I have rejected my own personal status quo, provoking myself with a line in my own sand. Making work again has been forced upon me. No matter that there is no time for this, and other ‘priorities’, time has been made for creation. Its been a long time waiting and I’m extremely grateful for it.
I have noticed that dissent is an energy. It doesn’t arise out of passivity. In the Heraclitean river of the world, the water moves against you. It’s a strong, ever-changing current, and you need to push hard if you merely want to stand still. To affect change, to dissent against that current, can require a huge amount of effort and energy. ‘Normality’, what ever that may be, is a compelling force, and not to be underestimated. It seeps in, blending and camouflaging itself, becoming that singular, greedy viewpoint that claims ownership of everything. It’s a cuckoo in the nest, and the frog that boils itself to death. If nothing else, Block_Chain has reminded to be on my guard more, and to just get off my administrative ass and address my own normality.
Thanks so much for signing up for this!
Collaboration:1 Doing it On your Own: 0
There was one particular thing you said some time ago about dissent as a positive thing. And in my case, I find myself appropriating this as "constructive dissent."
Constructive dissent. That particularly resonates to me to a great degree although with a particular and loaded set of inversions and peculiarities. A huge sum of it is primarily coming from a place with a huge amount of its art historical narrative remains undocumented or invisible while also inaccessible. So, in light of this, I see constructive dissent as a means to pursue a kind of radicality or irreverence while being aware of the art historical field in relation to being a Filipino artist. And more and more, I find myself consciously engaging in dialogue with specific historical contexts in relation to my country while balancing it with the shifts taking place in the contemporary art world. But the weight of these tropes of historicities find themselves infiltrating more and more my stream of consciousness. In this regard, they've come to look like these images below.
The codes overlaid with my images of the city find themselves like a filter whether just on the surface or beyond affecting things. It's much like how the digital world just like how on social media platforms we easily filter things (whether consciously or unconsciously) and how some peculiar contexts specifically historical ones are in a way eliminated in pursuit of the aesthetic or perhaps it can also go the other way around. It's like how that glaring simulated version of the screen deepens its reach into our daily lives. Somehow, on a good note, I'd like to imagine insisting on making these invisible stories come to the surface and work with these technologies that conveniently mute or dilute things from their actual potential. I think in that way, that's the best way we can create a more positive and constructive outlook on the subject matter of dissent. It's much like how as artists, we become respective of shifting between different contexts and operating with them while also being deeply rooted and conscious of our own set of peculiarities.
It's been a great exchange of ideas with you. I gladly enjoyed my time here.
Cheers and all the best from Manila,
I’m glad it all fell into place somehow despite some unexpected detours and distractions that came along the way. And truly pleased you enjoyed my post. On a side note, I find myself rather amused with the René Descartes excerpt for a good couple of minutes. As I was reading it, instinct has me figuring it out in the French. I was simultaneously reading and translating it.
It must have been an impractical habit of mine that stems back from the first semester I pursued postgraduate studies (almost a decade ago). It must have also been a kind of preoccupation to imagine elsewheres of different contexts/persusasions/historicities/systems/syntaxes/and so on if you were born somewhere where English is not your first language. And there’s always that uncertainty with a language you feel like you can’t completely express the recesses of your innermost thoughts. Yet somehow the reality of things being lost in translation is a form of dissent in itself and such actuality infiltrates a huge quotient of my artistic practice. These days I easily find myself precariously shifting from Filipino to English to French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Sometimes, it’s out of necessity but sometimes it’s also borne out of curiosity. It’s like distractions and detours that leads us to “elsewheres” which are in turn possibilities especially in light of the digital age, which is a Pandora’s box of discourses we have yet to surmount and properly catalogue… or at least we are somewhat pressured as it’s too ephemeral. The necessity quotient erstwhile is borne out of
On this note, that particular image you left behind perfectly synchronises with my train of thought now… semi-linear yet actively seeking for contours and peculiar distractions here and there to break the cycle. Dissent is very much indeed linked to language and our desired forms of communication and also how we try to deviate from these often systemic means of communicating with each other and try to find our own negotiated terms like a universe or perhaps an orbit we imagined in light of ourselves.
I end this post for now with an exterior and interior view of two cities I'm much fond of... a contrast between Berlin and Manila. I'm fascinated with the linearity of Berlin and how it enables me to be mobile and explore more (and easily navigate my way). This then is in contrast to a city like Manila where there's a restless reconfiguration as urban dwellers like me constantly insist on turning the city centre towards the peripheries or rather a "polycentric" hence postmodern vision of a city. The notion of centrality has been failing us immensely in terms of our capital city over the past few years. It's primarily due to our mobility issues and lack of sufficient infrastructure to efficiently take us here and there. This also perhaps sums up the tropes of the Apollonian and the Dionysian in me in Nietzschean terms but I'd always like to believe the latter is more exciting as things are in a restless state of movement. Lastly, this also sheds a light why dissent is in the core of the chaos surmounting living in a city like mine.... trying to find movement in something that hinders movement... embracing centrality when another centre emerges on the peripheries... the imaginary of another city infiltrating your way of life in the current place you're in... the simultaneity and discord much like detours and distraction contributing to your artistic process...
Glad you made it in the end! Sounds like you’ve had a few issues at your end. Still, like mentioned in my other post, we just have to make do with what we have and when we have it. I very nearly didn't sign up for Block_Chain as I was feeling under lots of pressure at work and thought I’d not be able to find the ‘proper’ amount of time to justify my involvement. I keep, mistakenly, thinking that you need to be able to block off solid chunks of time, planning ahead yadda yadda. I was wrong of course, and I’m very happy that Susan, our glorious curator persuaded me to get on with it!
So, what I’m saying is, it sounds as though we both have our ‘distractions’ so lets not worry about our attendance figures, and just make the most of the moments we are here.
Speaking of which: great post, Thanks!
I haven’t had the chance to check out the Joan Fontcuberta’s text, but I’ll be sure to follow up as soon as possible.
However, it was your Edgar Morin quote about blind spots that captured my attention. It reminded of the old Cartesian chestnut: ‘the eye cannot perceive itself’. Here's a relevant passage I dug up:
But it wasn't that passage in itself that got me ticking, it was your bit about blind spots.
People often talk about blind spots in relations to how they deal with problems that can linger, expand and become entrenched obstacles. Focusing on problems reinforce them.
Sometimes the less direct look offers greater clarity.
Here I'm reminded of the practice of Averted Vision. Its used by astronomers when viewing faint object through a telescope. The astronomer moves their eye, looking away, and examining the object with peripheral vision. I've just found that this practice is much older than thought, having been first recorded by Aristotle observing star clusters. I like finding out things like that.
Also, it appears there a a similar method called ‘Scope Rocking’ which sounds altogether more groovy! That method involves moving the viewfinder rather than the eye. Still, Averted Vision works for me.
Blind spots are interesting.
They speak of limits.
They are flags that remind us of a reality other than our own immediacy.
We can see and function beyond our natural limitations, but we require adaptation to do so. A change to our method, a shift to our perspective, an extension to our functionality.
We exist in a universe of infinite vanishing points yet default to one.
That’s not to say that this type of singularity doesn’t have value, just that it has a tendency towards greed and the monopolisation of our attention. It is, in itself a kind of blind spot. If we avert our vision we can break from its monocular ways.
My preference is to dissent from such singular absolute values, that yield a linear reality. That said, here's a linear perspective of me sitting, perceiving and focusing on the moment I had:
It’s a pleasure to meet your virtual acquaintance! After a bit of the ineluctable delay of having to attend to a rather overwhelming degree of things concerning my health… here I am resurfacing to my own stream of consciousness pondering over the theme of dissent.
I have been reading on and off Joan Fontcuberta’s Pandora’s Camera. Photogr@phy After Photography. And I thought of sharing with you this rather riveting excerpt of his in one of the essays taken from Edgar Morin’s La vie de la vie. It goes like this:
Every gaze implies a blind spot on the retina; every visual system involves
an area of blindness that is the necessary counterpart to the area
In this light dissent finds itself within these premises in which validating a peculiar way or manner of looking at things... and the stronger and deeper we delve into these actualities, the greater the blind spots we induce. As we immerse ourselves into the recesses of particularities and specificities, we also lose a lot. Or in a sense it's much like our perception and how its keenness fluctuates at certain periods of times and is condition based. The volatility of the whole matter still provides more crucial elsewheres and these unstable things in line with dissent is something I always find myself inevitably drawn to.
I'd like to talk to you about Manila on another occasion. Allow me to just gather my thoughts in a more cohesive manner. In the mean time, I'd like to end this post first with an open-ended possibility of a quote in German which translates as "Utopia gets better and better the more we wait for it." I believe I have picked it up as an excerpt from one of those books I've been reading under the contemporary art, urbanism and cosmopolitanism umbrella. Somehow, don't you think that we as artists with our own set of imagined/created/induced/gestured utopias (which extends from aesthetic motivations down to the peculiar socio-political contexts and other transgressive motivations we fall into as we do our art)? Our so-called utopias, whether private or not, offer a sort of resistance on our end to the immediate environment and ecologies we interact with whether positive or negative. And each one will have his or her own set of inversions and peculiarities that could never be put precisely into words nor even gestures but rather just fleeting instances of constructs that can either evolve or just disappear.
In the meanwhile, I'm looking forward for our next interaction... and hopefully it comes with more clarity from my end.
Cheers from Manila,
Hi again Gian, thought I'd make another cup of tea before head off. In terms of what I'm hoping to actually make here, that, I said in the last post is not exactly dripping in preconceived ideas, however, being able to respond to the other participants has been great!
I'm intending to make a break from the ways I've worked in the past. Try new things. Develop long-term mullings.
The text exchanges between Karen and Ash have been extraordinary. So much of it, and such great writing. (well done guys!). I want to make something that evolves from those texts in some way. I'd like to keep to simple not visually complicated. Perhaps as an output from a coded process that has unforeseeable elements. Randomness and collaborations are preeminent in dethroning the artists from their throne of control, don't you think?
Meantime, I was chatting to Yonat (one of our CAS artists) in the studio the other day, and we remarked about the sheer volume of content that is sprouting up during this Block_Chain project. Its hard to keep on top of.
I made the first two posts in response to Karens "To Just be". The video is her poem looped in collaboration with itself. What I find interesting about looking at that, other than the almost impossibility of reading it, is the way that the text moves just fast enough to suggest that, at that at first glance the two blocks appear to showing be different content. When I first played it I thought I'd misaligned the frames rates. Funny how perception works, isnt it?
I think later I'd like to reconstruct her words, generating them into some geometric forms that echo the tape-images. Their connection resonates.
What about you, all the way across the world in Manila, like some kind of entangled artistic-particle. Sharing the influence on our fourth block of constructive dissent?
Hi Gian, A pleasure to meet your virtual acquaintance!
Looks like we're both to whatever extent buffeted by the stuff that surrounds us. I reckon collaboration is damn fine way to go. But where to start though? That's the thing isn't it?
A ramble usually works. I have a cup of tea, the kids are at school, I have some moments to try and lay an introduction.
I see dissent as a positive thing. It exists in anticipation of improvement.
What is to be dissented?
What is to be improved?
Where is the path?
How do we find it?
How do we manage to to remain upon it?
For me, this dissent business is more a state of mind, an approach. I don't readily jump to soapbox particularities) or at least I don't think I do). I find myself asking why, and how and what if? The process is always accentuated in the face of an absolute value: You can't do this. It must be done like this. That is wrong. This is the only way. As it was, so it shall be. Such things are irresistible challenges. When presented with content framed as a necessary connection, the urge to track the exception is catalytic. Am I triggered in to dissenting from confines?
If we're talking about breaking chains of assumption, Hume's the daddy. Just because it happened, doesn't mean it will happen again. Proposing to untangle cause from effect is some serious dissenting! We are not worthy! Its a humbling thing.
My dissent is possibly one of opportunity and response. I am unable to operate in linear, predictable, plan-able ways. It's partly that time vacuum thing. If its a structural metaphor we're after, I feel I'm supposed to be New York. Large, sprawling, rich in diversity, but navigable with a blindfold. Gridded into predictability. Instead I'm more (not in any grand way) like Venice. Just throw the map away already. A path will go where it will go. Do not resist.
Pay attention to what's in front. Pay attention to now. Preparation exists on some notional plane somewhere. But that's for others.
So I attempt a breach of the pressurised hull that keeps me contained, drifting in the lost depths of my something or other. Opportunities like this are too precious. Amongst other things, they serve to remind me to stick the bloody periscope up now and then, and see what the hell is going on out there.
Collaboration is a life saver for me. Its a way to stay in the race when your tanks are blown. Pass the baton, take five. Get ready, its coming back.
Work in bursts. Its ok. Leave the grid. Wander. Find dead ends. Talk to others.
Do the school run, work the office, sit the meetings, take the baton. Find a dead end. Pass the baton, wash the dishes. Work the office.
Raise the periscope.
Find the path.