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Modernism (as Digital Space)

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Tim Stephens

on 22 February 2011

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Transcript of Modernism (as Digital Space)

Modernism Digital Space Habermas-'Modernity, an incomplete project' (1980) Venice Biennial-press report:
"Postmodernity definately presents itself as antimodernity" What is modernity? Modern- 'modernus' late 5th century

Distinguishes between 'ancient and modern'....
or, Roman and Pagan past from the Christian present Timeline 5th Century Roman Pagan Greek Spread of Christianity Hadrians Wall A.D. 155 2nd Century Ancient Pre-history Modern was used by an epoch or time who associated itself with a connection with the ancient or past time 17th-18th Century Enlightenment Locke philosophy
Newton science Reason and Natural law Moral, Social progress and change- as part of the Enlightenment Science inspired...."Infinite progress" Romantic modernist looked back beyond the classical to the middle ages Classical Middle Ages Rennaissance Pre-Modern Postmodern 3000 BC Egyptian But, we are...like the mid-19th modernists making simple distinctions between 'tradition' and 'the present'...

Emphasis on "the new" The styish becomes classic, yet within reference only to being modern. As if the modern is now detached from history, historical time. 'Aesthetic modernity' Baudelaire
Cafe Voltaire
Surrealists Avant Garde Habermas (1980)...direct quotations By mid 1960's (& beyond)
"the avant garde of 1967 repeats the deeds and gestures of those of 1917. We are experiencing the end of the idea of moden art." Octavio Paz 'Post Avant-Garde' Pushing beyond the boundaries of modernity into postmodernity...? Theorists:
1. Walter Benjamin
2. Peter Burger
3. Daniel Bell*
4. Theodore Adorno
5. Max Weber
6. Peter Weiss
7. Karl Marx
(*One American neo-con out of mainly left-wing, liberal or critical non-conformist, anti-establishment thinkers) ...the continuum of history..." "...the subversive intention of blowing up "a post-historicist attitude...." (Habermas on Benjamin) Theories:
1. 'Posthistoricist' attitude
2. 'Post Avant-Garde'
3. The problem? Modernism = hedonism
unlimited self-realization
authentic self-experience
subjectivism...which therefore:
"stirs up hatred against the conventions and virtues of everyday life"
The answer? Religious faith + faith in tradition will provide clear and secure identity.
4. The ideal of an intellectual
5. The 3-way split in cultural modernity
6. The Aesthetics of Resistance, using art to learn about everyday life and work
7. Failed to 'negate philosophy' in the same way surrealistis failed to 'negate art' because they stayed within the one sphere of influence
8-10. 'Young conservatives' who appear anti-modern by pretending to be liberated subjects and therefore outside of historical modernism Habermas's argument against the conservative criticism of 'culture' as a contaminating element...
This right wing logic equates 'opposition' to 'extremism'
e.g. promotion of 'women's rights or gay rights' as 'destroying the family',
being against 'arms spending' as 'communist', or even perhaps 'opposing student fees' as 'anarchist'.

In other words blaming 'cultural modernism' for 'capitalist modernization'.
Societal Modernisation Argument: Part One 'Project of Modernity'

is actually

a 'project of the Enlightenment' Digital Culture/Technology

How is it part of our modernist culture...?
Weber Science Morality Art Argument
Pt One a)...Reason, formerly divided between
Religion and Metaphysics
into a UWV

splits into three

as Unified world views fall apart (18th C.)
Digital Space I The 'Digital' is part of Digital Culture.
What is Digital Culture...?
Let us look into the phenomenon of Cultural Modernity
in order to begin to find out... Max Weber: Unified World Views. A harmony that exists between 'religion' & 'metaphysics' (or the philosophical values of a culture).
E.g. Indigeneous cultures, Animistic societies, Pagan or Ancient world views...and indeed the rise of Islamic religious states and New-Age Ecologism Plato Socrates Pre-socratics Truth
Beauty knowledge
taste Traditional Issues... Argument Pt. Two: cultural modernism Science Morality Art Cognitive-instrumental Aesthetic-expressive Moral-practical Habermas & Weber So, if we do think of the Digital as:

"the new" (the 'modern classic' or the 'new but timeless')

"infinite progress"

"the now; pure pleasure and hedonism"

"part of a nostalgic unified world view" (global community)

"a reactionary extremism; anti-nature"

We are either conservative postmodernists, premodernists or antimodernists!

If we believe in Digital Culture being best served by an Enlightenment-type (traditional) authoritative institution for:

"a cognitive-instrumental" enterprise

"an aesthetic-expressive" freedom

"a moral-practical" good

and digital culture based on "institutions" needs either;

"technical expertise"; technophiles

art directors or academics; "experts in artistic judgement"

or activists and those with special "moral judgement"

then we are also failing the potential of modernity to create change in society and the ordinary life and work of everyday people!

We are trapped in what Habermas calls a "false" negation of 'cultural modernity'

However, if we think that Digital Culture can:

Bridge the gap between high art, tradition and everyday life...

Work across the splits between science, art and politics...

Make progress and developments in this light...

then we may be Modernists in the positive sense of the 'incomplete project of modernity'! OBJECTIVE Autonomous Universal Law Each of which created specialist 'experts' and 'professions'
separated from everyday life and action
"scientists, aesthetes, judiciary" who became authorities on cultural matters ...the 18th century project of modernity ...is just a part of 'Cultural Modernity' Argument Pt Three:


Shall we give up

modernity as a failure

or keep something of

the intention of the


optimism? This separation is the problem,
So... Answer...
In alternative thinking... 'antimodernity, with a bit of 'premodernity' is becoming popular....

BUT, it IS possible to move between the institutions of European culture and the everyday lifeworld of work and illuminate something about both spheres of life Muybridge and Motion
Eadward Muybridge was a pioneer in the capture and documentation of human motion. He had a most profound influence on how artists of the modern era perceived and translated the human figure in motion. He was best known for his discovery in 1877 which was that horses at one given point had all of their feet off the ground.
This method was developed over time and in 1883 he moved to Pennsylvania where the University funded his exploration into human motion believing there was scientific value to be gained by his work. Members of the University were employed as models for his work. People at the peak of their discipline were drafted in, such as the professor of physical culture, the instructor of the fencing and sparring club and the champion runner. 1809-1882 Modernist literature...
Finnegans Wake 1939 Pt 1 Episode 213-215

Well, you know or don't you kennet or haven't I told you every telling has a taling and that's the he and the she of it. Look, look, the dusk is growing! My branches lofty are taking root. And my cold cher's gone ashley. Fieluhr? Filou! What age is at? It saon is late. 'Tis endless now senne eye or erewone last saw Waterhouse's clogh. They took it asunder, I hurd thum sigh. When will they reassemble it? O, my back, my back, my bach! I'd want to go to Aches-les-Pains. Pingpong! There's the Belle for Sexaloitez! And Concepta de Send-us-pray! Pang! Wring out the clothes! Wring in the dew! Godavari, vert the showers! And grant thaya grace! Aman. Will we spread them here now? Ay, we will. Flip ! Spread on your bank and I'll spread mine on mine. Flep! It's what I'm doing. Spread ! It's churning chill. Der went is rising. I'll lay a few stones on the hostel sheets. A man and his bride embraced between them. Else I'd have sprinkled and folded them only. And I'll tie my butcher's apron here. It's suety yet. The strollers will pass it by. Six shifts, ten kerchiefs, nine to hold to the fire and this for the code, the convent napkins,twelve, one baby's shawl. Good mother Jossiph knows, she said. Whose head? Mutter snores? Deataceas! Wharnow are alle her childer, say? In kingdome gone or power to come or gloria be to them farther? Allalivial, allalluvial! Some here, more no more, more again lost alla stranger. I've heard tell that same brooch of the Shannons was married into a family in Spain. And all the Dunders de Dunnes in Markland's Vineland beyond Brendan's herring pool takes number nine in yangsee's hats. And one of Biddy's beads went bobbing till she rounded up lost histereve with a marigold and a cobbler's candle in a side strain of a main drain of a manzinahurries off Bachelor's Walk. But all that's left to the last of the Meaghers in the loup of the years prefixed and between is one kneebuckle and two hooks in the front. Do you tell me. that now? I do in troth. Orara por Orbe and poor Las Animas! Ussa, Ulla, we're umbas all! Mezha, didn't you hear it a deluge of times, ufer and ufer, respund to spond? You deed, you deed! I need, I need! It's that irrawaddyng I've stoke in my aars. It all but husheth the lethest zswound. Oronoko ! What's your trouble? Is that the great Finnleader himself in his joakimono on his statue riding the high hone there forehengist? Father of Otters, it is himself! Yonne there! Isset that? On Fallareen Common? You're thinking of Astley's Amphitheayter where the bobby restrained you making sugarstuck pouts to the ghostwhite horse of the Peppers. Throw the cobwebs from your eyes, woman, and spread your washing proper! It's well I know your sort of slop. Flap! Ireland sober is Ireland stiff Lord help you, Maria, full of grease, the load is with me! Your prayers. I sonht zo! Madammangut! Were you lifting your elbow, tell us, glazy cheeks, in Conway's Carrigacurra canteen? Was I what, hobbledyhips? Flop! Your rere gait's creakorheuman bitts your butts disagrees. Amn't I up since the damp tawn, marthared mary allacook, with Corrigan's pulse and varicoarse veins, my pramaxle smashed, Alice Jane in decline and my oneeyed mongrel twice run over, soaking and bleaching boiler rags, and sweating cold, a widow like me, for to deck my tennis champion son, the laundryman with the lavandier flannels? You won your limpopo limp fron the husky hussars when Collars and Cuffs was heir to the town and your slur gave the stink to Carlow. Holy Scamander, I sar it again! Near the golden falls. Icis on us! Seints of light! Zezere! Subdue your noise, you hamble creature! What is it but a blackburry growth or the dwyergray ass them four old codgers owns. Are you meanam Tarpey and Lyons and Gregory? I meyne now, thank all, the four of them, and the roar of them, that draves that stray in the mist and old Johnny MacDougal along with them. Is that the Poolbeg flasher beyant, pharphar, or a fireboat coasting nyar the Kishtna or a glow I behold within a hedge or my Garry come back from the Indes? Wait till the honeying of the lune, love! Die eve, little eve, die! We see that wonder in your eye. We'll meet again, we'll part once more. The spot I'll seek if the hour you'll find. My chart shines high where the blue milk's upset. Forgivemequick, I'm going! Bubye! And you, pluck your watch, forgetmenot. Your evenlode. So save to jurna's end! My sights are swimming thicker on me by the shadows to this place. I sow home slowly now by own way, moyvalley way. Towy I too, rathmine. Modernist literature.......generalizations
Modernism is marked by a strong and intentional break with tradition. This break includes a strong reaction against established religious, political, and social views.
Modernists believe the world is created in the act of perceiving it; that is, the world is what we say it is.
Modernists do not subscribe to absolute truth. All things are relative.
The Artist becomes the key intentional creator and a more persuasive 'cult of the individual genius' re-emerges Chrysler..." a 'machine age' temple" `oscar schlemmer Triadic ballet 1927 Vico is best known for his verum factum principle, first formulated in 1710 as part of his De Italorum Sapientia.[7] The principle states that truth is verified through creation or invention and not, as per Descartes, through observation: “The criterion and rule of the true is to have made it. Accordingly, our clear and distinct idea of the mind cannot be a criterion of the mind itself, still less of other truths. For while the mind perceives itself, it does not make itself.” This criterion for truth would later shape the history of civilization in Vico’s opus, the Scienza Nuova (The New Science, 1725), because he would argue that civil life – like mathematics – is wholly constructed. Aristotle-scieince based on observations Paul Ricoeur; 'hermeneutics of suspicion' of Freud, Marx and Nietzche....The act of interpreting, constructing or making of the meaning reality requires a deciphering and a new language... http://www.wadsworth.com/philosophy_d/special_features/timeline/timeline.html# In 1913 Italian Futurist sculptor Umberto Boccioni made his sculpture Unique forms of continuity in space. The original was made of plaster and cast in bronze after his death. The Futurists were a group of Italian artists who strived for the future at a time when new technology and urbanisation were rife across Europe. They wished to lay waste to all that stood in their way on “a campaign for the destruction of the past” . Speed was a predominant feature in their thinking, evident in this extract from the futurist manifesto written in 1909 by the poet Fillippo Tommaso Marinetti:

“We declare the splendour of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath . . . a roaring motor car which seems to run on machinegun fire”
“Either abstract space is adapted in deference to natural man and transformed back into nature or the imitation of nature. This happens in the theatre of illusionistic realism. Or natural man, in deference to abstract space, is recast to fit its mould. This happens on the abstract stage” Schlemmer

“These arts, architecture, sculpture, painting, are fixed. They are momentary frozen motion. Their nature is the immutability of not accidental but a typified condition, the stability of forces in equilibrium. And thus what may appear at first a deficiency, particularly in our age of motion, is actually their greatest merit” Schlemmer Heidegger Age of the World Picture

Three peiords of time: Ancient, Middle Ages and Modern

Three types of knowledge and thinking about truth/the world

The essential qualities of
Machine Technology
Art as Aesthetics
Activity as Culture
Loss of the gods

Main points:

Only that which becomes [an] OBJECT is considered to be a in being

[Why?] For the purpose of gaining mastery over, through Science

Man becomes the relational centre of that which is as such

The world picture, the world thought of AS a picture

Decisive for the Modern Age is that the world is transormed into picture and [man] into a subject. Freud 1856-1939
The Unconscious as a 'Space' that is discovered in the individual,
and the social...what Benjamin calls the 'Optical Unconscious'...
Rosalind Krauss tells the story of the optical unconscious, an unruly, disruptive force that persistently haunted the field of modernism from the 1920s to the 1950s and continues to disrupt it today. From Max Ernst's collage novels and Marcel Duchamp's hypnotic Rotoreliefs to Jackson Pollock's drip pictures and Eva Hesse's luminous sculptures, she finds artists who offered readymade images of obsessional fantasy in place of modernism's intentionality and unexamined compulsions. Photography Gersht will present his most recent body of work, a series of photographs entitled Time After Time, and the films Pomegranate and Big Bang. In this work, Gersht explores the relationships between photography, technology and optical perception. Informed by research into both the early history of the photographic medium and contemporary theoretical discourse, he examines the impact of the latest digital technology on the medium of photography, and on the whole way in which image-makers perceive "reality".

The works Gersht will discuss are inspired by old master still life paintings. Through creating and recording high-speed, violent interruptions to the static equilibrium of the original paintings, Gersht creates a tension between past and present in an attempt to explore 'optical unconscious' moments that can only become visible to the human eye through cutting-edge photographic technologies.
Ori Gersht presents his most recent body of work, a series of photographs entitled Time After Time, and the films Pomegranate and Big Bang. In this work, Gersht explores the relationships between photography, technology and optical perception. Informed by research into both the early history of the photographic medium and contemporary theoretical discourse, he examines the impact of the latest digital technology on the medium of photography, and on the whole way in which image-makers perceive "reality".

The works Gersht will discuss are inspired by old master still life paintings. Through creating and recording high-speed, violent interruptions to the static equilibrium of the original paintings, Gersht creates a tension between past and present in an attempt to explore 'optical unconscious' moments that can only become visible to the human eye through cutting-edge photographic technologies.


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