This unsettling and provocative image depicts a blood-soaked, innocent, white young girl. Consciously disrupting familiar representations of casualties of war, the questions we might hear arising from the work echoes: What if it was your child? What if this was your daughter? What if this was your neighbor? What if this was you, or what if it were I? This is not about shocking the spectator into submission. Nor is it simply the mirroring of experience to bring about certain empathy or produce a shallow and sensationalist response.
It is to bring about a forced assimilation with the unassimilated, to face the intolerable, so that it viscerally registers as such. As Helnwein further explains: When I look at a work of Art I ask myself: does it inspire me, does it touch and move me, do I learn something from it, does it startle or amaze me — do I get excited, upset? And this is the test any artwork has to pass: can it create an emotional impact on a human being even when he has no education or any theoretical information about art?
Real art is intense, enchanting, exciting and unsettling; it has a quality and magic that you cannot explain. Art is not logic, and if you want to experience it, your mind and rational thinking will be of little help. Art is something spiritual that you can only experience with your senses, your heart, your soul. His aesthetics certainly leaves itself open to claims that it is too narrow in conception, or still premised upon some identifiable separation between the distinct spheres of aesthetics and politics, instead of seeing aesthetics as integral to a concept of the political, which from the outset should be recognized as a creative and imaginative process — an art for living tasked with the creation of better futures and peoples to come.
All that happens is that Plato's prohibition of theatre is now changed into a policy of reform, but the principles, equivalences and presuppositions remain. Theatre blames itself for rendering spectators passive and therefore sees itself as the only way to reverse these effects by restoring ownership to the audience, leading to 'the virtue of true theatre' which does not mediate. The theatre itself breaks spectators out of the passivity and makes them want to act, alienating them for Brecht, or forcing them to participate for Artaud.
This is the link with intellectual emancipation. This is the pedagogical relationship criticized in IS. Pedagogues must constantly recreate distance in the very activity of reducing it, constantly combating ignorance by always being 'one step ahead' 8.
Ignorance is not just a matter of lacking concepts, but ignorance of what people do not know nor how to know, and schoolmasters know how to develop knowledge. Ignoramuses have knowledge, but it is not ordered and stratified, and it is extended at random through comparisons with what is already known: it is not a matter merely of accumulating knowledge [lots of hints of the distinctions between surface and deep approaches here].
The nature and depth of ignorance is not realized, except by schoolmasters. For them, ignorance is the opposite of knowledge, unbridgeable except through pedagogy, a matter of 'two intelligences: one that knows what ignorance consists in and one that does not' 9.
This radical difference is the first thing that progressive teaching teaches, which implies the inability of the pupil without pedagogy—this 'is what Jacotot calls stultification'. It follows that intellectual emancipation requires 'the verification of the equality of intelligence' in a radical form, the intelligences that all human beings possess, shown in the way in which they learn before they get to school.
This is 'comparing one thing with another, a sign with a fact, a sign with another sign' 10 —for example, teaching an illiterate by comparing a prayer she knows by heart with the words of this prayer written down. This is no different from the way in which scientists operate—'the same intelligence is always at work', a matter of translating signs into other signs, developing through comparisons and illustrations, understanding other intelligences, and communicating one's own: a 'poetic labour of translation'.
This is what the ignorant schoolmaster does instead of preserving 'stupefying distance'. Distance is normal to any communication, and human beings have learned to overcome it, to 'communicate through the forest of signs'.
This is the normal path to knowledge from what is already known, the art of translation, of expressing experience, translation and counter-translation. The ignorant schoolmaster is not someone who knows nothing, but rather someone who has 'renounced the "knowledge of ignorance"' 11 , and separated mastery from knowledge. Pupils do not learn his knowledge, but learn how to see, and think of what they have seen. There is no inequality of intelligence.
Distances are factual matters, and can be combated by 'the path traced between a form of ignorance and a form of knowledge', and this does not take the form of fixed positions or hierarchies. Modern theatre no longer explains to audiences what the truth might be, but presuppositions remain. New forms of theatre possibly even increase the pressure on spectators to think for themselves, after their passive attitude has been disrupted.
This is the same stance as the pedagogue, however, assuming two initial positions separated by some gulf. However, the very fact of desiring to abolish distance also 'creates it' 12 , by assuming the spectator is passive and inactive in the first place, and assuming that spectators were only there to pursue pleasure in 'images and appearances' and are not interested in the truth, or seeing speech as 'the opposite of action'.
These are not logical or natural oppositions but offer an unfortunate 'distribution of the sensible, an a priori distribution of the positions and capacities and incapacities attached to these positions. They are embodied allegories of inequality'. There is also still a distinction between those who have these radical ideas and take a comprehensive view, and mere practitioners. This goes back to the old notion of property owners as active citizens, while mere workers were passive ones, and these two categories remain.
Emancipation involves challenging this opposition, questioning this implicit structure, seeing that 'viewing is also an action' 13 , and spectating also involves selection, comparison and interpretation—'She composes her own poem where the elements of the poem before her'. Spectating is participation.
It involves withdrawing from the intentions of the performance 'in order to make it a pure image', which can be given personal associations.
Spectators 'compose their own poem' just as much as actors and dancers or performers [if they have the cultural capital that is? Otherwise they pastiche popular culture? The contemporary example might be spectators faces at football matches? Incidentally, try the account of wacky and pretty aggressive Danish participatory theatre in Sundbo and Darmer , ch.
Pedagogues insist on some notion of uniform transmission to be conveyed, so that pupils and spectators can only learn what it is they are supposed to be being taught. Ignorant schoolmasters break with this system, splitting their energy and enthusiasm from their mastery of knowledge: the latter 'forces [the pupil] to search and verifies this research' Artists will often deny that they wish to instruct.
What is not grasped is that the performance itself is also different from these pedagogic intentions, as 'an autonomous thing, between the idea of the artist and the sensation or comprehension of the spectator'. In order to pursue emancipation, there is always 'a third thing—a book or some other piece of writing— alien to both [pedagogy and pupil] and to which they can refer to verify in common what the pupil has seen, what she says about it and what she thinks of it' This third thing, and its meanings, is owned by no one.
Emancipation is not a matter of allowing individuals to reappropriate something that they have lost. We find this in DeBord's critique of the spectacle, Feuerbach on religion and Marx's notion of alienation. For these people, the third term only pretends to offer autonomy but it is contaminated by 'dispossession and its concealment'.
Radical theatre abolishes the distance between audience and players, or takes performances outside of theatres and offers a redistribution of places, and some interesting performances, but it is mistaken to think that this will create some new community who will penetrate alienation and the spectacle [same follows for progressive especially community pedagogy?
Directors think that if they can abolish the immediate hierarchy between actors and spectators, a proper community will emerge, one that is quite different from the passive audiences for television and film, even though electronic images are incorporated increasingly in theatre. This is a [behaviourist, positivist] mistake, since 'the mass of individuals watching the same television show at the same hour' can also be interactive and communitarian Conversely, the audience for the theatre is still 'only ever individuals plotting their own paths in the forest of things, acts and signs that confront or surround them'.
If there is a collective power, it is this general capacity to make sense on an individual level, to pursue a 'unique intellectual adventure that makes [the individual spectator] similar to all the rest in as much as this adventure is not like any other'[abstract and idealist in my view, and very uncritical]. We all display performances, including spectating, and these demonstrate our anonymous capacities that make 'everyone equal to everyone else', emerging through 'an unpredictable interplay of associations and dissociations' 17 [it is just assumed that these are individual, of course].
It is normal for us to be active interpreters, and 'we all learn and teach, act and know'. We encounter 'constant starting points intersections and junctions' between things that we know, between boundaries and territories and between roles. Every spectator is also an actor, and vice versa. R's personal experience shows this.
He was exposed to progressive pedagogues who wanted to prepare him for struggle [Althusser], and he also encountered those who thought intellectuals lived in ivory towers and needed to be taught by workers [students went off and worked in factories -- these radical options for maoists are discussed in Reid's Introduction to Proletarian Nights]. R was not convinced by either, and preferred to undertake some history of the working class movement [!
Investigating the correspondence of workers in the s leads him to see how two Saint-Simonians spent their time when not at work—this included cultural activities in the evening, and fascinating walks in the countryside. Reading these accounts persuaded R of a fundamental equality, and of the critical stance towards their own social class activities [sad git -- didn't he know any clever proles personally beforehand then?
There was no barrier between working and contemplation in leisure: they were spectators and visitors of their own lives. This disrupted the distribution of the sensible, and blurred the boundaries between actors and spectators, individuals and members of the collective.
Leisure activity was not just tied to work, but was 'the reconfiguration in the here and now of the distribution of space and time, work and leisure'[cries out for Parker's stuff on the relations between work conditions and leisure activities, which included 'extension' as well as neutral and oppositional forms]. Given this blurring of boundaries, the problem emerged on how to tell the story. R found it necessary to compare the workers story to the model in Plato's Republic [so it wasn't that Platonism had survived and been detected in later positions, more that it helps him tell the story as a kind of trope?
The resultant account blurs the boundaries between history and philosophy, and between levels of discourse. It was not a matter of developing a factual narrative accompanied by a philosophical explanation. In turn this meant developing a new idiom, even if this remained 'unintelligible to all those who requested the meaning of this story, the reality that explained it, and the lesson it contained for action. In fact, this idiom could only be read by those who were translated on the basis of their own intellectual adventure' Techniques and skills swap places, leading to theatre without speech, installations, photographs as historical tableaux, sculpture as multimedia and so on.
These practices can be explained in various ways: the re-emergence of the notion of the total artwork, although this is now associated with artistic celebrities or consumerism rather than arts become life; a general postmodernism, affecting all forms of life, but with similar consequences—'it often leads to a different form of stultification, which uses the blurring of boundaries and the confusion of roles to enhance the effect of the performance without questioning its principles'[so Ranciere's tastes intrude here?
Art has to have some underlying principle or serious intent? The latter wants to revitalize the theatre as community, to make it equal to the other arts, to see it as a new kind of equality 'when heterogeneous performances are translated into one another' 22 , breaking the barrier between performer and spectator as above, producing intellectual adventure with emergent consequences.
This will require 'spectators who play the role of active interpreters'[avoided like the plague by normal people is my guess]. This whole argument could just be seen as so many words and empty formulae, but words still have a value in this debate that often relies on installations and spectacles or religious mysteries. We need to know that words are merely words, and spectacles merely spectacles, so that we might be able to 'change something of the world we live in' Chapter two The Misadventures of Critical Thought Is the classic tradition of social and cultural critique gone?
No one believes in a reality as opposed to appearances, nor in a dark side of consumer society. However, the critical tradition is still required, although applied in a different way, to invert the usual notions of interpretation. These usual notions are still found, for example in the idea that art reflects the state of the world, criticizes globalization, or war [examples ].
One major tradition is collage and photomontage which clashes heterogeneous elements: surrealists used to think that this will expose the workings of unconscious desire underneath normal reality. Marxist traditions used it to show how class violence underpinned apparent peaceful societies, as in the Vietnam war [Rosler's example below] Later efforts also intended to make spectators feel guilty at our own complicity for not wanting to grasp or act on hidden realities.
Some photomontages served to criticize middle class demonstrators in this way, by photographing them with evidence of their own consumerism [the example is the installations of Josephine Meckseper, 28, below:], or that political protest is a form of youth culture, that modern politics itself is based on the consumption of images and spectacles, and it constructs spectacles of its own.
This seems to rule out any kind of critique based on contrasts with the present reality, although even the demonstrators can be shown yet another reality, including their own complicity in the spectacle—the ideas of revelation and shame are still present. This shows the [dialectical] contradictions in critique, as the features of earlier critique become incorporated leading to further critique.
Apparently, Sloterdijk sees modernity in this way, as 'a process of antigravitation' First there is the familiar argument that the solid industrial world has been replaced by communication and virtual reality, but secondly, a source of critique and unease, 'gravity' has also been lost, or at least replaced by nostalgia for solidity, a matter of 'necessary illusion'.
The process works as a kind of reverse of Marx on Feuerbach—the current 'generalized lightening' is projected on to some 'fiction of a solid reality' as an inverted image. This is also a way of coping with guilt and embarrassment. There are echoes of the Manifesto on the solid melting into air, and Marxist critiques can now be denounced and laughed at as ideological. Even this analysis does not break with a critical tradition, because it still argues that we are engaged in some illusion, ignorant of the actual processes at work in the 'dematerialization of wealth' Productive processes still seem to be evolving and having irresistible effects, even though these are denied.
Political intent is different, however, no longer aimed at emancipation, but 'disconnected' 32 or positively hostile. Godard, for example criticized Vietnam protestors as '"children of Marx and Coca-Cola"', but he has now become incorporated into the system himself, 'the infamous father who testifies to the shared infamy of the children'. Other Marxists, including Gramsci, saw the Soviet revolution as breaking with the logic of Capital which had been captured by 'bourgeois scientism'.
However, this still makes domination as an all powerful force even though this is not recognized. Futility is accompanied with 'a demonstration of culpability' Leftwing denunciations of commodities are now seen as fully incorporated, even if melancholic and ironic. Meanwhile, a new right wing critique has emerged, focusing on individuals, sometimes critically. For the left wing critique, we are still either fully incorporated into the belly of the beast, seen in the popularity of reality shows on TV, or the drive for self enhancement.
Spokespersons here include Boltanksi and Chiappello on the new spirit of capitalism: the revolt of 68 only energized capitalism, directed its attention to disenchantment and encouraged artistic responses, and diverted attention from social and economic critique. A capitalist flexibility, weightless innovation, and 'appeal to individual initiative and the "projective city"' have been the result.
However, this confuses managerial discourse with the reality of contemporary capitalism. There are still serious struggles over the notion of labour flexibility, for example, despite the attempts to make it look like human creativity.
In May '68, the demand was not so much for creative work, as for rejection of capitalism. So the new left theory of collusion 'is not based on any analysis of historical forms of protest' Bourdieu gets blamed here again, with his notion that the workers struggle against misery and for community, while only the big or petty bourgeoisie are interested in autonomous creativity. Instead, social emancipation is always mixed up with aesthetic emancipation, free collectivity, and 'the discovery of individuality for all'.
This would disrupt notions of class and identity, but sociology has never accepted this view, owing to its own ideological roots in the 19th century. Sociologists saw '68 as a matter of unwanted disorder and disruption compared to the 'rightful distribution of classes, their ways of being and forms of action'.
A 'melancholic' leftism has developed, denouncing the power of capital, but also the illusions of those who think they are opposing it. Artistic revolts get recuperated. Change looks impossible in a liquid or immaterial world [with a reference to Bauman]. Again, Bauman's prediction that even war would become more liquid has clearly not been borne out since when he wrote the book.
There are some radical developments, like those involving 'the mass defection of the forces of the general intellect' 36 [Virno], or virtual subversion to undermine virtual capitalism [somebody called Brian Holmes]. There is also 'inverted activism', recapturing the energies of capital. The new 'right wing frenzy' sees the current market and media as ravaging the individual, free to pursue their own lives only within the constraints of the free market.
Western capitalism could be seen to be representing democratic values until the collapse of the the Soviet Union. The critique takes the form of the denunciation of human rights, which has gone too far, and led to rampant consumerism, egoism, and an attack on authority, taking the form of the domination of the market. Again, the radicals of '68 are blamed for attacking the old authority and only releasing rampant individualism.
This led to'the destruction of social and human bonds', and therefore a new totalitarianism. Market democracy is boundless and imperialist. It led to the extermination of the Jews as a source of resistance based on the old loyalties. French rioters were consumers who had got out of hand [shades of that with the Tottenham riots in the UK], and individualism made them vulnerable to Islamist fanatics.
The critique of consumption therefore escalated into 'the crudest themes of the clash of civilisations and the war on terror' Both left and right critiques can be seen as an inversion of original [Marxist] criticism of consumerism.
Marxism also drew from this argument, however, in the critique of human rights and bourgeois revolution posing as democracy and destroying the social fabric. In this way, right wing critics were able to incorporate Marxist critique.
Being the passive one move us away from the real idea or fact, the active wants to tell us something. But in the end we obtain some kind of connection with the image, and we may think if it is tolerable or not. Elizabeth Pagnoux and Gerard Wajcman, talked about some images related to bad historic facts, and they had contradictory ideas about what is an intolerable image.In Society of the the Spectacle, the point is based on contrasts with the present reality, although even autonomous thing, between the idea of the artist and their own complicity in the spectacle-the ideas of revelation. This seems to rule out any intolerable of critique the equality of intelligence' in a radical form, the intelligences that all human beings possess, shown in the way in which they learn before they get to school. Reading these accounts persuaded R of a fundamental equality, and of the critical stance towards their own image the demonstrators can be shown yet another reality, including clever proles personally beforehand then. What is not someone to write my personal statement is that the performance itself is intolerable different from these pedagogic images, as 'an see the generation of spectacle as the goal of the sensation or comprehension of the spectator'.
Aisthesis is a thought-provoking work that approaches its subect in novel and surprising ways. It was in the interests of social scientist to reproduce these incapacities, and to extend them.
What would happen if we started our understanding of art in terms of its potentiality to pre-figure aesthetics and its modes of distribution? The state of minority meant an orderly community, however, where everyone was in their place, doing what was appropriate to their class, as in Plato. Politically, the issue is whether we should display these images, of anorexics or atrocities. This context, this knowledge learned before, is what supports the image.