Monday, November 14, 2005

Smithson’s Katrina (Notes)


‘Non-site’ as ‘mediation’ (Adorno) enfolding the ‘real’ / ‘site’.

Katrina photos – as ‘dialectics at a standstill’ (Benjamin) where ‘site’ / ‘non-site’ produces a lightning of reason and imaginative blindness at a nexus of the culturally antagonistic.

Attending the Whitney’s Smithson retro. with Jane Lea and Brandon Stosuy and looking at New York Times photos of New Orleans afterwards, Brandon comments how the photos remind him of Smithson’s non-sites.

“Before / After” from space (aerial photo) = the mark of ‘occurrence’, ‘there is’, ‘now time’.

‘Natural’ – as neutral terror.

Problem: to aestheticize natural disaster. But what if aestheticized (graphed) natural disaster leads back to our ‘anthropocentrism’ / ‘Humanisms’. A floodgate of the particular, of the lived-intuited.

From outer space ‘we’ is the ultimate abstraction, like money or art. Apropos Stein’s writing on ‘human mind’ in *Geographical History*, money, masterpieces, etc. But abstract must lead us back to ‘real’ in its eruptions.

Imagine: a Smithson non-site not w/ rocks and typical geological contents, but with the objects of the dead and survived – articles of clothing, water bottles, objects describing race / class conflict. A recuperation of Smithson as political, the play ‘abstract’ / 'particular' as unavoidably political.

Or could water simply evoke such contents now?

The artist must be mediator between industrialist / environmentalist (Smithson’s late dicta).

The artist must be mediator between
FEMA / people ‘on the ground’,
State / Inhabitant-Citizen,
Environmental / State–designed terror (the conditions which make for terror)?

The tears of this grid become the tears of real people. The tears of this grid broken, the tears of force.

Reduced to the animal, the ideal / abstract presents itself in its fragility, its lack of support.

The tears of our abstractions, our plans, our projects.
The tears of non-sense.

A fragile word: “tears”

Conveyed in pictures (reproducible) more than the eye. Words vs. pictures. Non-sense and sense.

Our plans, our projects.

Which is more particular?

Fragile newsprint, and collage of newsprint that will both decay.

Despite reversing our steps in the sandbox, playing the film backwards.

Benjamin’s storm made literal. Geo-graph-crit-ical.

Composed c. 9/26/05

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