Seminar - Information


This was an interesting lecture, sometimes difficult to comprehend and discussing Knowing and Unknowing (Epistemology), also looking at Information as a keyword.

I need to read further into the text provided, and see how this might relate to my current practice and writing.

What information are we dealing with as artists, as artist-researchers? The information we gather through our investigations, or the swirling sea of types and modes of information we live in. This may be information on social media or on the internet, or information we notice or register in the day-to-day world. Some of these impact on our making, some are part of our work environment. Projects and artworks can directly engage with information, with visually representing big data, and artists work aesthetically with information based media, with digitally generated works. All are aspects of information and the flows and economies of information.

Lyotard and the as yet unthought

What Lyotard calls ‘the stifling busyness of performativity’ cannot bear the idea of not making progress, nor find any value in the possibility of failure: from this perspective, having to begin again is a sign of time wasted, rather than of a capacity for renewal. Yet without the risk of failure, of getting lost or ‘being adrift’, there is no real openness to the unknown, to the new thoughts that might emerge from the as yet unthought: ‘We write before knowing what to say and how to say it, and in order to find out, if possible. ... We recommence, but we cannot rely on it getting to the thought itself, there, at the end. For the thought is here, muddled up in the unthought, trying to sort out the impertinent babble of childhood.’ c.f. Julian Bell, Contemporary Art and the Sublime: contemporary-art-and-the-sublime-r1108499

The sense of making / acting from a place of not knowing, or from different types of knowledge.

When we talk about not knowing, we often mean not being able to recognise or identify something, not being able to bring concepts to bear to determine an object or goal. But in the absence of knowing what something is or where we are going, we draw on many other kinds of knowledge to open paths forward: practical knowledge, in the Kantian sense of knowing what to do, our moral sensitivity and judgement; bodily knowledge born of habit and acculturation; as well as what Plato calls techne, the craft and skill involved in making (and of course, this is not intended as in any way an exhaustive list). Together, Lyotard and Irigaray remind us that letting go of conceptual knowledge can be the condition for renewing the activity of thought, as well as for bringing other kinds of knowledge into play.

This section of the seminar was particularly thought provoking, as when I am making it's often from the sense of not knowing that the work appears. The knowing is in the process and the knowledge of how to construct the work and then the unknowing enters within the process. This is where the mistakes come in to play, often revealing something unthought that adds to the work and then becomes the end result.

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Derek Dickinson