Inflexions No. 3: Exploring Ethico-Aesthetics (Oct. 2009)

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NODE: No. 3 – Micropolitics: Exploring Ethico-Aesthetics
edited by Nasrin Himada and Erin Manning
TANGENTS: No. 3 edited by Erin Manning and Leslie Plumb

Web Concept & Development by Leslie Plumb

 Tangents for this issue are “molecules” from Society of Molecules – May 1-7 2009 a distributed international event organized by the SenseLab. Each molecule was composed of 3-10 people in 16 locations across the world. One member of each molecule was designated as an “emissary” and visited another molecule during the period leading up to the event. Emissaries deposited a “seed” with the host molecule and brought back a “recipe” to their home molecule. Molecular events were conceived as local interventions with ethico-aesthetic reverbations on a micropolitical level.

Excerpt from Introduction to Issue:

N.H.: I think changing the concept from a noun to a verb, from collective to, as you suggest, making collective—opens up potential for new ways to think and do collaboratively. To think the concept of the collective—a coming together of bodies that initiate a process of collaboration, participation, extension, and sharing—is to think and practice a politics of collective assemblages. This provokes a new ethics of practice that is not based on the idea of the common, but on the idea of technicity, and raises the question of the relation between theory and practice. How is it that from practice and experimentation concepts emerge? How do we create the conditions for this relation to take place?

E.M.: You raise a number of interesting issues. I think the question of technicity is key, and it’s an issue that comes up, in one way or another, in all the interviews in this issue. Bruno Latour talks about techniques with respect to the singularity of the project. Techniques, as each of the texts in this issue underline, are modes of existence that create nodes of importance, in the Whiteheadian sense. Brian Massumi calls them “performed transition mechanisms,” referring especially to what we, at the SenseLab, have been calling “techniques of relation.”

The danger of the idea of the common – which only begins to become interesting if we move it toward the notion of the commons – is that there is a presumption that the project pre exists the problematic. The common claim is to know in advance what is at stake. To predefine the project in this way subverts any potential for creating a new set of problems. The project, in these terms, can only be deciphered, categorized, judged within the frame of its preexistence. Techniques, on the other hand, are always immanent to the event in its unfolding. They are not equal to all tasks and must therefore be reinvented each time. Techniques are neither specifically political nor artistic nor ethical. They move across, emphasizing points of emergence or singularization. Techniques thus potentially create conditions for a singular unfolding of the event. (continue reading introduction here)