rebuild recompose rejoy

sand and movement: a agglomerate by dailylabel
13/02/2015, 09:41
Filed under: art, joyful heterogenous culture, resources





heap of sand for my installation

Piazzale Europa (MA*GA), Gallarate

Show “Voglie vedere le mie montagne”




In his book ‘Sand: The Never-Ending Story’ British geologist and sand expert Michael Welland

The construction of a house costs on average two hundred tons of sand.

watchdog Global Witness sounded the alarm in 2010 with its report ‘Shifting Sand’


Earlier this year, we looked at the idea of forensic geology, whereby even a single piece of sand can be tracked back to its terrestrial origins. As that link explains, the source of electronics-grade silicon is often deliberately occluded from public documents, treated as an industrial trade secret. Here, though, it is not microchips but internationally recognized political territory that is being mined, traded, and assembled—a black economy without audit or receipts.

“The problem movements like these have is stickability. The challenge is for them to build structures that are ongoing; to sustain these new voices.”


That art is produced under such conditions regardless – that the resistance that art forms may well be continually destroyed, that the heads will continue to be shot off as they have been throughout the capitalist epoch – does not, for Adorno, justify such resignation to the course of the world, and the jettisoning of artistic expression into a whirlpool of blind contingency. Steyerl certainly disagreed: her theoretically most forthright contribution to the evening was a claim that a distance from the artwork, its separation from the subject as object was problematic. In her defence of engagement she claimed that dialectics doesn’t work, and probably never did. But for Adorno such a position would amount to a misrecognition of what it means for art to be social: sociality is not just the immediacy of violence, but instead precisely the mediacy of a violence that conditions an alienation from and within society, a social separation of the things of the world. For Adorno art can become critical only in taking up its separation from society which is itself part of society.

But Adorno at least would resist a claim to a practical immediate truth found in partisanship, which despite being part of society would hope to discover deep within itself some power that has escaped society’s total system of production and value. For Adorno the part and the whole are already fully mediated in one another – indeed this is society’s dialectical form.

Finally instead of imagining a great online commons it would note that the systems of value and valorisation that drive this vast machine are only partially encompassed by it, and while offering a practical use within it do not give a full representation of circulation itself, and therefore offer no capacity for the system to become self-conscious.

It is not the case that semblance itself is not capable of critique in the way that concepts are. But rather that the semblance made universal fails to recognise its own political limitations.

To this class of entrepreneurs there is no means of action that would transform history, and works of art disavow their responsibility to history through claiming pure semblance as pure content while renouncing questions of form.


Aside from the defense of privacy and the regulation of the algorithmic panopticon, other political strategies must be explored. We need maybe to invent new institutions to intervene at the same scale of computation of governments, to reclaim massive computing power as a basic right of ‘civil society’ and its autonomy.
Humankind has been always about the alliance with alien form of agency: from old microbes to new medicines, from old materials to new technologies. A progressive political agenda for the present would be then about moving at the same level of abstraction of the algorithm: in order to make the patterns of new social compositions emerge.


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