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The Coded Utopia of Makrolab

via Rhizome.org: 

January 15th, 2006, 5:41 pm
By Brian Holmes

Makrolab is one of the more seminal and enduring projects to have developed out of the tactical media canon. Brian Holmes sets the project in the context of epochal shifts underway in the former Yugoslavia during its inception and fixes our vision firmly on the utopian horizon that this living laboratory probes.

Originally from Mute magazine - Culture and politics after the net - CULTURE AND POLITICS AFTER THE NET at January 15, 2006, 08:58, published by Marisa S. Olson


continued: excerpts from MUTE Magazine:

Makrolab is a collaborative project that emerges from the vision of the Slovene artist Marko Peljhan. It offers some answers to these questions – singular answers. To make them useful in any general way, one would first have to approach the project in its multiple dimensions, to discover its stakes and challenges, to locate its contexts and learn to read its codes. Is it sculpture or architecture? A concept or a performance piece? A nomadic war machine, or a theater to replay history? The difficulty, when you want to perceive a project like this, is to let yourself enter the horizon of its possibilities, even while analyzing its specific features. [...]

Considerable stakes underlie this kind of project, though they are rarely formulated in any explicit way. No one can work on the recurrently traumatic structure of technological civilization without realizing how deeply its military origins reach into the fabric of our daily lives. Indeed, the American military expansionism of the Second Cold War (1980-89) is what sparked the globalization process, culminating in the events of September 11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. At the very outset of the eighties, Deleuze and Guattari conceived the heteronomous model of the 'nomadic war machine' as a way to dissolve the military hierarchies of contemporary civilization. This is what Peljhan more pragmatically calls the conversion to civil technologies. But to understand how this could even be attempted, is it really enough to say that art becomes life, and artwork becomes documentation?

The language of Makrolab suggests something else: a generative matrix, close to the models of social evolution developed in Guattari's complexity theory.23 Guattari tried to understand how people can displace their embodied routines, their existential territories, by transiting through a machinic assemblage capable of producing collective enunciations. Makrolab achieves this by bringing the deterritorializing force of scientific formulas and artistic images into play on the experiential level, the level of temporary habitation. What results for the participants is not a simple 'decoding' of encrypted contents. Rather, within a device that itself encapsulates certain aspects of the Slovene artistic experience, fragmented images from a wider variety of vanguard projects can knit together into complex sensorial refrains, interrupting the normalized modulation of time imposed by the commercial and military cultures of transnational capitalism, and loosening up subjectivity for original work with the most challenging scientific and symbolic material, at variance with the dominant patterns. Each of participants then adds something to the device, to its pool of references, tools, algorithms and images – to its horizon of evolutionary code.

The end-products of the 'dataesthetic' can therefore be interpreted somewhat differently, outside the gap between raw documentation and the ineffable immanence of lived experience. For the vital activity of the researcher does not just produce data in the etymological sense, mere 'givens' excerpted from the dominant flux. Instead these maps, images, films, diaries, programs, soundscapes, texts and streaming signals are artistic and scientific gifts – offered to other sites, other devices, other possible futures. [read full article]


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