Saturday, February 26, 2011

She's Lost Control Again

Prepare to be disappointed. Mondo Bummer just put out a 'chapbook' of my poem, "She's Lost Control Again," in their super lo fi format (folding, one staple in the upper left-hand corner, stickers, 8 x 11 office paper). Thanks to Amy Berkowitz, publisher of Mondo Bummer, for asking me to contribute work. You can learn more about the press project, which features work by CAConrad, Brandon Brown, Kendra Grant Malone, Anna Vitale, and many others, here.

If above or below
These powers the boxes
Kept moving
If this was a game
We were making the rules
Up as we went along
As though within our
Own bodies without control
She's lost control again
We're just beginning
To manage her limbs
Like assemblage we shit
We perspire autonomy
When they tell us to
Only there is no me
And there is no you
There is no beginning
In other words to this
Process this continuous
Product producing our

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You Are My Friend

--to Brenda Iijima

You are my friend, hi!
The bones know us and so do I

So I is just little eyes, little I's
In the belly my friend Brenda

One does have a naval
Animal-suffering-membrances are we

Extended into the sea and here (and hear)
Somewhere in the collective

Imaginary do I imagine you affected
Like every moment was a birthday

So our bones grow again
Resurrected two years at a time

I with a lower case i
I learned that today in my belly

My friend, Brenda, who we are?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Somatics, Movement, and Writing

Here are some pics I took at the Somatics, Movement, and Writing symposium this past weekend in Ann Arbor. Praise and thanks to Petra Kuppers for inviting me to be a co-organizer for the symposium, and to all who participated. More reflections to follow!*

*last two pictures courtesy Neil Marcus

Monday, February 21, 2011

Virtuosity and the Survival of the Subject: on Catherine Sullivan (in Afterall)

Afterall 26 just came out, and features an essay I wrote on Catherine Sullivan, "Virtuosity and the Survival of the Subject: on Catherine Sullivan." Check it out in bookstores or here:

Catherine Sullivan’s work involves nothing less than the problematic of virtuosity. The virtuosic as it pertains to performance history (film and theatre), but also, to quote the Italian philosopher Paolo Virno, the virtuosity of ‘post-Fordist’ labour practices, practices which entail an ‘immaterial’, ‘living labour’ of the contemporary subject. Before I come to Sullivan’s oeuvre, however, let me dwell on Virno’s notion of virtuosity for a moment. To be a virtuoso, in the traditional sense, is to be able to perform a score in some extraordinary way. In Virno’s book A Grammar of the Multitude (2004), he poses the question: ‘If the entirety of post-Fordist labor is productive (of surplus-value) labour precisely because it functions in a political-virtuosic manner, then the question to ask is this: What is the script of their linguistic-communicative performances?’ What, in other words, constitutes the score which the contemporary labourer qua subject performs and how do the conditions of the contemporary labourer qua virtuoso – whose product is immaterial – differ from the conditions of labour which preceded them, those in which a visible ‘product’ or ‘object’ was produced? How, likewise, does one judge the value of ‘work’ when what is produced are affects or ideas, and when this production process relies on improvisation? Virno and his contemporaries, the Autonomists, provide a number of concepts which I believe can help us approach contemporary art practices, and particularly the practices of artists who make the connection between labour and performance explicit through their works. What might connect contemporary labour and live art are questions of virtuosic labour – contemporary live art being both reflective and critical of practices of virtuosity in the global work place.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

5 Questions (for Contemporary Practice) with Amy Balkin (@ Art21)

Check-out my feature with Amy Balkin at Art21 blog, with regards to her art of "counter-speculative spaces."

Some of my work deals with constructing “speculative counter-spaces” I’d like to see, such as a permanent global commons (in the project This is the Public Domain), or a clean-air park (Public Smog) in real space. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting more equitable relations globally around access to and control of land, water, and air. But there’s also a range of issues raised by these kinds of projects, including questions of dilettantism when addressing issues of expropriation. It’s easy to think of current examples of brutal struggle over land, including land grabs, occupation, and forced expulsions, so what are the relative stakes?

But Walter Benjamin had this to say – ”One of the foremost tasks of art has always been the creation of a demand which could be fully satisfied only later” – and though he was speaking about future technological advancements that would allow for the production of new forms of art, I think it’s very helpful to consider, particularly in terms of the potential for positing counter-models in the context of aesthetic practice. And perhaps attempting to produce these spaces might move them further towards the realm of political possibility.
--Amy Balkin

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For Xavier Le Roy

The body is an archive
Discourse is a skin
Porous to the things we are
Born also without air

The body is not just body
The soul a machine-like work
Administering worlds, saving face
Though nothing will be saved

The body is mainly condition
A grace in which the concept
Moves where a center was
Where hands become like shade

Trembling what they're doing did
This system "what a body can do"
Spirit becomes a spirit-hinge
Attaching what will have been

Like Duchamp's Étant Donnés
Picture the difference within
The social life of machines
And the skin of social life

Withdrawn where there wasn't
A line this harrows so this
Becomes the point instead
Life without center spread.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Meta-Discourse and the (Post-) Digital Book @ The Disinhibitor

Michael Cross posted a few paragraphs from the talk I gave in Bflo this past Friday, "Meta-Discourse and the (Post-) Digital Book (How The Hole Is Still Being Made)" at his blog, The Disinhibitor. Thanks to Margaret Konkol for organizing the talk, and for the great conversation and company of those in attendance!

How to instill the book with living presences that may bear witness to a set of social constellations and coordinates without doing harm to the participants/what has been offered through often unreflective and spontaneous forms of participation? How to resist this move as a gesture invested with cultural capital or as a move in a kind of art game while still being able to reflect critically upon it, or simply acknowledge its tendencies? The prefaces that I intend to include within The Hole, in this regard, reflect both the content of the would-be book, but also how the book is always a kind of performance within a discourse, and specifically as this performance is addressed to one’s peers, friends, and contemporaries (if only after the fact). How not to render lame (or dead) a process that one loves (or has loved) and wishes to further extend? How to circumvent the inevitable tendency for such ‘projects’ to become captured by staid forms of institutionalization, archivalism, or academic research; the negative forms of distribution and critical reception that pervade both commercial and academic culture (however much all of us work in relation to these cultural locations)?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Small Press in the Archive lecture

I will be giving a talk titled "Meta-discourse and the (post-digital) book" tomorrow at 3PM for the Small Press in the Archive Lecture Series, curated by Margaret Konkol. The talk will take place in The Poetry Collection @ SUNY-Buffalo's "North" campus.

Another possible way to look at The Hole, through the lenses of Medvedkin’s/Vertov’s art, is via Lev Manovich’s notion of the “database,” and Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera as an early (and analogue) model of database. Certainly, if nothing else, I like to think of The Hole in its final form producing a moment in which, not unlike in Man With a Movie Camera, one can feel that they are looking simultaneously at multiple frames or interfaces, by which the appearance of the film production process, but also reception and distribution processes, become in some way known, though they may never become settled through a singular representation. Man With a Movie Camera is not one film, I would argue, but quite a few; and one of these several films is about poesis itself as it models certain forms of sociality, and socio-politics. What, the film always asks me, if art could always be uncompromisingly self-reflexive about its situation within conditions of cultural production? What if art could continuously reinvent a radical participation, a mutual regard that can extend from participatory aesthetics?

Monday, February 07, 2011

21 Grand Reading at A Voice Box

Andrew Kenower has kindly added a recording of my 21 Grand reading with Catherine Meng from this past summer in Oakland to his fabulous A Voice Box MP3 archive.

Thank you, Andrew!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Introduction for Yedda Morrison (SEGUE)

I’m not sure if there are any contemporary writers I know of who so effectively—and elusively—present language as something not just gesturing, but visibly struggling towards a place beyond utterance, discursion, and rhetoric, as Yedda Morrison does. What is key to me in addressing this aspect of her writing has to do with affect. How affect courses through language constituting a work of ecology, feminism, and social justice when these discourses would appear calcified through their representation. This happens at the level of the word, if not the phoneme. Sound is a carrier; the semantic a lining for something else. A work of healing. A profound and disquieting commemoration of the unmourned, displaced, exploited that becomes terrifying at moments, but never sentimental. How does all this occur?

In Morrison’s first book, Crop (Kelsey St. Press, 2003), through an investigation of the conditions of migrant women laborers in her native California. Present at this scene however, and complicating it, is, as in Muriel Rukeyser’s seminal U.S.1, the camera; photography as it reduces the world to something captionable, therefore reduced, contained, abstract. Crop refers to that which the labor of these women yield. Morrison’s title also equates the fact that representations of their labor conditions are never adequate, not up to the task of either activism or historiography. What would it mean to stand with them, Crop seems to ask, from a place where acts of representation are not critically parodied, but overdetermined by prosody? A language of embodied encounter, tracking negative and positive affects. Zooming in and out, Crop sees the 'big picture'. It perceives the exploitation of migrant laborers in relation to other forms of exploitation, not least of which are that of women's bodies, those of non-human animals, and of the earth itself through agricultural misuse. The felt sensation of this exploitation is palpable throughout the book, and irreducible to paraphrase.

The preoccupations and strategies established by Crop evolve and become sharply focused in Morrison’s 2008 book, Girl Scout Nation (Displaced Press), as well as her recent book forthcoming with Make Now press, Darkness, and various art projects. In Girl Scout Nation the landscape emerges as a presence entwined with the destiny of girl scouts who are preyed upon by serial killers and politicians alike. This is a book about sovereignty (and against it) during the W years, in which Laura Bush figures prominently, as well as popular programs such as Fear Factor and Survivor. As in Crop, the language always exists at a boundary of sense. It redistributes the senses making common sense coextensive with natural and social material—the fact that wild nature posits the “real,” as does the human body made vulnerable by sexual violence and expropriative labor practices.

In Morrison’s Darkness, one encounters a similar set of questions. What would it be like to feel or experience a natural world before colonial adventure? By whiting-out all but the words referring to natural phenomena in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness Morrison’s reader experiences a world twice named, twice born through symbols and a kind of symbolic violence in reverse. An Adamic sense not before, but after the fall. It is interesting that most commentators on the book have only mentioned the procedure itself—whiting-out—but little about what occurs through the procedure. How one feels confronted with all the white whooshing around sparse words, punctuation. In it there is a sense of the world and the word being given back. The world coming (back) into being, beyond the violence of representation, born again through the post-symbolic performance of Morrison’s unique 'erasure'.