How would you not ask?

– excerpt from a conversation between Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic

Raad: “I have a very clear sense of why I became interested in trauma and it has nothing to do with the civil war in Lebanon—absolutely nothing. It has to do with [the following]: Once I asked my sister and brother about a specific family subject and they told me stories, and it was as if I were not there. Yet, I was there and we made decisions together on a specific subject. Nonetheless, it is as if you were not there. I mean your memory of these things is different completely, rather than just in a slight manner: you believe, you’re convinced of the exact opposite … and the character that you were is your brother actually: I was not there, my brother was there—but that’s my memory. And I couldn’t fathom how it was that children ages 10, 9 or 12 could make such a decision, or that your memory … you have images, an odor, colors, but they are not yours, they are completely someone else’s. This had a bigger impact on me than the war.

NATO as Architectural Critic

Destruction as Classification

Is it possible to recover a historically inflected reading of the Serbian government buildings destroyed during NATO’s 78-day “bombing for peace”? Part of any effort to do so would have to provide evidence that this nation’s role in modern history is not entirely nefarious, as it may seem today.

A large part of that history is strictly architectural. In contrast to other communist ­nations like the Soviet Union, which under Stalin chose a Neo-classicist style over Constructivism to represent the state, Yugoslavia constructed its post-war image through experimenting in modernism. Devoid of national symbols and­ representations of power, architecture in Yugoslavia went through a process of programmatic yet intuitive, and at times metaphorical, appropriations of the Western avant-garde. This style is evident in institutional buildings ranging from government offices to museums, hospitals and schools.

The construction of an architectural identity in Yugoslavia had to follow an ideological shift away from the centralist Eastern bloc toward liberal Western democracies. National architects learned how to suppress expressionism deriving from their pre-war educations and previous experiments in national styles. Cubist and Expressionist buildings—for many a true national sensibility—were dressed to look functionalis­t and international. This process marked the post-war boom in construction all around Yugoslavia. Variations on the curtain wall as seen in the Seagram building by Mies van der Rohe and Phillip Johnson in New York, on the repetitive mullions of the Pan-Am building by Walter Gropius, on rows of horizontal windows, and on patternless stone replaced pre-war decorative academicism and its classical look.

1st image: Army Headquarters in Belgrade after NATO bombing. 2nd image: Dobrovic’s Bergsonian drawing for the Army Headquarters. 3rd Image: The Army Headquarters.

Full Article – http://cabinetmagazine.org/issues/1/NATO.php

During Christmas, I’ve been messing with the projector in the woodlands of Kansan suburbs, layered with low-les memories. Made this video mix of my indecisive stream of consciousness; trying to make sense of ‘impurity’ with different hues of perception. The title ijéwaleze means ‘moving images’ in the vocabulary of ‘Kanza’, a native american tribe.

What’s it about again?

The idea, which shapes my ongoing series of projects/sketches, is my interpretation of the Gulf paradox and the missing pieces within it’s history.

Keywords: Perception, Geological Identity, Multiplicity, Sexual Anxiety, Patriarchy.

I visualized it as an installation of a half-realized project;  an unresolved loop. It misses many aspects which binds in the narrative structure around formed around characters. I was attempting to bridge pre-Islamic pagan plurality(in a sarcastic manner), in contrast with the harshness of current dystopian cultures.

I was supposed to focus on the anti-heroine qualities stem from the ancient maternal pre-Islamic deities, who used to be worshipped by Arab tribes: such as Allat, Uzza and Manat. Each one comes from a distinct region in the Arabian Peninsula, and had, which diversity has been eroded by Mohammedan theism, and patriarchal gluttony. They will most likely be rendered in a non-figurative manner (presence of absence), and will be interacting with each other within choreographed compositions online, offline and in-between.

The glue here is the web technology; but I was struggling with the code along with the integration of ideas through excessive hyperlinking (how i deal with information) The webworld consists of intriguing metaphors through (hyperlinking, icons, visualizations, familiar embodied extensions). Constructing 2 realities of virtual and physical, and they will be perceived from two vantage points, one is from a distant [ogler] perspective. The second viewpoint will be from the eyes of the web-surfer(?) In addition, there will be subtle changes between the two viewpoints.

Basically the videos contain the flesh (with one drawing, multi video clips, 1 and a 1/2 performances, 2D/ 3D animations, audio-mixing & noise arrangements, projection within textures space); the web-presentation would be the nerve system.

What is also missing are some subtitles of the arabic & my voice recordings. I decided I want to be a musician after creating this project. Although it is not evident a lot here (except in the first video), but musical memories and childhood songs are what shaped the sequence of my concepts and taskflow.

I was also shaping my ideas while bearing in mind the following concepts:
1. Psycho-geological references (past and the Now).
2. Objects of distraction/ disconnection [like during the gulf war, children used video games for self-numbing].
3. Domesticated wastelands: draws on the region’s hypermodern infrastructure within repressive societal norms.

Notes on the forms of Pagan worship

From prehistoric times man has sought to worship powers of nature, or symbols representing those powers, or idols representing those symbols. In vulgar minds they become debased superstitions, and seem to come into competition with the worship of the one True God.

The five names Wadd, Suwâ, Yagûth, Ya`ûq, and Nasr, represent some of the oldest Pagan cults, before the Flood as well as after the Flood, though the names themselves are in the form in which they were worshipped by local Arab tribes.

The names of the false gods are interesting from the point of view of comparative religion, as, under one form or another, such cults still exist in countries which have not accepted the Gospel of Unity, as they have always existed since man turned from his Maker and Sustainer to the worship of created things or invented fancies.

The names of the five false gods and the symbols under which they were represented were as follows:

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 17.36.15

These cross-currents and mixtures of nature-worship, astral-worship, hero-worship, worship of abstract qualities, etc., resulted in a medley of debasing superstitions which are summed up in the five names.

The time of Noah is taken to be the peak of superstition and false worship, and the most ancient cults may thus be symbolically brought under these heads. If Wadd and Suwâ` represented Man and Woman, they might well represent the astral-worship of the moon and the sun, or the sun and the moon, or they might represent human self-glorification, the worship of Self as against God.

Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/pip.htm

Space Euphoria: Do Our Brains Change When We Travel in Outer Space?

The Overview Effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface.

In February, 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced the little understood phenomenon sometimes called the “Overview Effect”. He describes being completely engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness. Without warning, he says, a feeing of bliss, timelessness, and connectedness began to overwhelm him. He describes becoming instantly and profoundly aware that each of his constituent atoms were connected to the fragile planet he saw in the window and to every other atom in the Universe. He described experiencing an intense awareness that Earth, with its humans, other animal species, and systems were all one synergistic whole. He says the feeling that rushed over him was a sense of interconnected euphoria. He was not the first—nor the last—to experience this strange “cosmic connection”.

More here: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/05/space-euphoria.html

The Still Life of Vernacular Agents [Exhibition]

The expanding network of agents that connects subjects and objects in multiple forms and changing constellations calls for a new preoccupation with these mediators that make things talk, and through which references can be mobilized. The exhibition explores the nature of of hybrid mediators challenge our concepts of being and reality. Such mediators include, high definition imagery, digital manufacturing, genetic engineering, and increasingly refined forms of virtual communication.

Forest, Desert

Monotheism and polytheism:

There’s a lot of literature and links between various cultural attributes and environment. Much of the data for these conclusions comes from cultural inventories and ethnographic Atlases.

Studies have pointed out that there are correlations between the geographic extremes of Forest and Desert on the one hand, and a whole range of cultural predispositions on the other.

The basic, and perhaps too simplistic, claims mention that Forests = polytheism, and Deserts = monotheism

Some other stated patterns are that forest societies in environments of plenty tend to be polytheistic, egalitarian, nonviolent, sexually tolerant, with substantial rights for women. Desert societies tend to be monotheistic, socially stratified, prone to warfare, have strong sexual taboos and are male-dominated.

There are two lines of thought that can support the ideas of polytheism seeming more natural in a Forest environment, and of monotheism finding an easier reception in a Desert.

1. A Forest has abundant resources; a resource dispute can be solved by one party moving away. But the limited resources of a Desert will favor the party that uses violence to control the resources, and the need for violence will favor male power and stratified decision-making. A society dominated by a single powerful male will be more receptive to the idea of the Universe being under the control of a single powerful God.

2. In a Forest, nature has many aspects: trees, rivers, delicious fruits, poisonous fruits, animals you can eat, animals that will eat you, patches of sun, frequent rain, and so on. Nature is diverse, and its gods are diverse. In a Desert, nature is dominated by the sun – omnipresent, all-seeing, harsh, unforgiving, and an easy symbol for the domination of life by a single God.

Monotheism and polytheism – desert and forest

Francesco Celemente

Salman Rushdie describes his paintings as ‘transformational grammar’ that seeks to connect with the structure of the images embedded, in our essential unconscious nature to the surface structure of visual perception.

Celemente built up an archive of images – both in his memory and in his notebook filled of hundreds of drawings surfacing in his work within various visual contexts. The idea of cultural influence was not literal nor nostalgic. He did not illustrate or explain an image or necessarily engage with this cultural symbolism or iconographic connotation. These images often serve as referents. I’m interested in his perception and translation how he found India as a very contemporary place, but at the same time translation has as sense of translocation; shifting between sacred texts and their contemporary translations. If we sum up his method, he synthesized images into an extremely personal mythology.

While looking at his drawings, I focused on how he uses layouts in the arrangements of pictorial narratives: for example, he introduces the device of a double square within the rectangular frame of the miniature when dealing with themes of separation, fragmentation and isolated geographies.

His own interpretations of ancient manuscripts left me in awe, in the way he plays with the illusion of seriality. He did not bind his pages, but decided to break the narrative order, leaving them as loose sheets subject to rearrangements. Clemente also played with the related notion of negative and positive spaces, which is an issue of visual cognition, i.e. the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Formless: A User’s Guide. Yve-Alain Bois & Rosalind E. Krauss

This was painful to read, and I didn’t like it’s direction towards it’s conceptualization of art. Although it is anchored to the “Informe” concept of Georges Bataille, but the arguments presented by are weak and was stuffed with an overflow of analysis and theory that does not clearly reveal their claim.

But I liked some of the visuals in the book, such as Ed Rusha’s Thiry-Four Parking Lots, and lots of Debuffets.