The Dreamachine

Useless Beauty and Fuzzy Logic: correlations of violence

Peter Lewis

We invite contributions of visual, aural and written material in open responses: on the abandonment of correlation as a necessity of art's contingency. Thought and action are together 'useless' if incapable of escaping the invisible and severe circle of 'correlationism' in which they inevitably conform to another use. Terms 'use' and 'useless' are in a relational pact. Paired in contradiction, not opposed in meaning, from want of a practical consistency to and from, something like the 'for-me' and the 'in-itself' appears 'cold', fatal. The co-relation applies itself like glue to a paradox. The beauty of the unthinkable is violent revolution, but revolution is itself emotionally unthinkable. Both statements are helpless, contingent of fuzzy logic and the inverse necessity of beauty.

Some quotes and remarks

'We wanted to be radical, brave, pioneers; we considered ourselves to be a vanguard. We over estimated ourselves ridiculously, indulging in the illusion that a revolution was thinkable in the prosperous Federal Republic. In this light we were self-timers who acted cut off from reality in a void. We lived a sort of armed existentialism. ' (SelbStauslöser, Astrid Proll, Hamburg, March 1998)

'L'Art est inutile' Ben Vautier; L'Exposition est inutile', Marion Pipper

(from the catalogue L'Art est inutile - Avantgardekunst/Arte D'Avanguardia 1960-1980 curated by Wolfgang Fetz, Gerald Matt and Marion Pipper, Bregenzer Kunstverein, Bregenz; AR/GE, Kunst Galerie Museum, Bozen; AR /GE Kunst Galleria Museo, Bolzano 1992-1993)

'The photographs we took in Paris are rarities. In the late 60s everything for us was geared towards political intervention; art was considered to be 'bourgeois' or suspicious. Aesthetics were unimportant, what mattered were content rather than form. The pictures from Paris look like holiday snaps. At the same time they document the farewell to legality and the assumption of an inconspicuous normality. Gudrun had her hair cut and dyed, while Andreas adopted cropped hair and pressed trousers. Not much later they took the cover names 'Hans' and 'Grete'. '

(from Baader Meinhof, Pictures on the Run 67 -77; SelbStauslöser, Astrid Proll, Hamburg, March 1998)

'(...) of Jeff Koons, the post-therapeutic Frankenstein, for whom the solution to the Frankenstein problem lies not in trying not to be Frankenstein but in the social power acquired when one says 'I am Frankenstein and I am not angry'. In Koons' world there is no solution because there is no problem - or rather the problem is fun.' (The De-Frankenstein Option, from the Velvet Grind, David Robbins)

Helpless Statements

Jasper Johns interviewed by David Sylvester had suggested that it might be more 'useful', concerning the process of making his work to surrender to 'helpless statements' rather than aspiring to intentional ones, and that one's energy or time should be 'wasted' in achieving a state where something can no longer be avoided or resolved: the infinitely subjective 'for-me' experience and at the same time, the fuzzy logic of the objective thing 'in-itself'. In Artforum October 2008 Nick Mauss discussed this 'in-itself' of painting as a subjectively weird and embarrassing encounter, specifically citing the politicised practice and paintings of Jochen Klein. Landscapes without geneology, heterotopias that call into being something that has not yet existed, which cannot exist, yet as formal statements, in contradiction, as something thinkable, to be done. What is not a contradiction in Klein's work is the critical-political framework versus the pleasure or emotional register of painting. (see Abandoned Painting, Nick Mauss, Artforum, October 2008)

Useless Beauty

It might be useful to read again of the failure of an idea of beauty in political insurrection and the manifesto; from the perspective of violence in the persistence of religion, and the synthetic 'emotions' of entertainment, as related in the writings of Guy Debord, or Gilles Dauvé (Jean Barrot). Is it not ideology, the 'dream machine', that moves the progressivism of the avant-garde's manifesto, retrospectively, into the free market, so as to synthesise (normalise) an ahistorical process? 'This democracy of virtues - what I term horizontal culture - is the basis of cultural life of modern America, and it's a fascinating and radical concept.' (David Robbins, The Velvet Grind)

Fuzzy Logic

'The Future Will Be...' (compiled by Hans-Ulrich Obrist) * rounds up the Many futures [infinite] to a 'correlationism' recomposing totality as relative equality, and vice versa. As a fantasy and a wish-fulfilling prophesy, the fuzzy 'future' is engineered as trivia. A 'McDonaldised' world, as J.G. Ballard had unapologetically put forward, requires no further need of manifesto's 'difficult' thought or resistance since it is already perfect and not angry. Hence the emotional closure on the absolute of beauty, or unthinkable revolutionary level of liberty is finally guaranteed by filling in every possible alternative; since by listing (simplifying and amplifying) all its components in the form of an ideology (the mass media), thinking 'in-itself' methodically brackets any unthought necessity of contingency. And you get a free sticker.

Correlation of Violence

As such, Meillassoux will write: 'we are trying to grasp the sense of the following paradox: the more thought arms itself against dogmatism, the more defenseless it becomes before fanaticism' (AF, 48). We could add, that the simplification / amplification of emotion / meaning also integrates the 'fun' content of populist myth and its moral 'Axis of Evil', 'terror' et cetera as the mass constituency of hyper-media. Philosophy which is born with the rejection of myth now finds that it must suffer the proliferation of superstition, religious fanaticism, of popular ideology everywhere due to its own internal constraints. 'The question of whether or not we can think a world without thought is thus the question of whether or not philosophy is possible.' (from Correlationism and the Fate of Philosophy, Posted by larvalsubjects June 13, 2008 at 7:52 pm)

* Hans-Ulrich Obrist, 'The Future Will Be...' is published by M/M, Paris. The edition is limited to 600 copies, each of which is numbered, signed by Obrist, stamped by M/M and includes your own sticker.