Time Is the Place

Starting in Germany, History in Motion: Time in the Age of the Moving Image is now available for instance from amazon.de, but also from real bookstores that aren't data-guzzling kraken, such as pro qm

The rest of the world is to follow very soon.

History in Motion contains 312 action-packed pages, with 82 illustrations in glorious black and white. Very reasonably priced at € 19, so you won't have to sell an organ to buy a copy.


Texte zur Kunst no. 90: Research Objectives

From the editorial of issue no. 90 of Texte zur Kunst (June 2013):

"Using the phrase 'How we aim to work', the June issue of Texte zur Kunst brings together contributions by authors who have been associated with the magazine for a long time and who have shaped its debates along the way. Instead of specifying a thematic focus, we left it to the contributors to decide which questions relating to their current research interests they wanted to address. The selected texts are mostly extracts from long-term research projects and therefore function as 'work samples'. They expand on topics for which, faced with the deadlines always bearing down on them, the authors usually don’t find time. Thus, this issue contains drafts of texts – “goodies from the study”, if you like – that would otherwise remain in the drawer and that for now avoid the logic of direct exploitation. We invited the authors to develop these texts without requiring that they align, as is so often the case, with a designated theme.

"It is precisely the conditions out of which they developed and the different formats of these contributions – from collaborative authorship; to narrative, literary essays; all the way to monographic and performative, artistic treatises – that stand for a different approach to the fields of university research, project-oriented collaborations, artistic dealings, and the thematic 'private passions' of our authors. Such an approach would run counter to the often sobering coercion of activity and effectiveness that characterizes working conditions today. The authors’ willingness to share “work samples” from their ongoing projects can also be understood as a reaction against the pressure of having to be flexible and active in various ways in both one’s professional and private life – in order to expand one’s network through a quick succession of projects and to ensure the existence of future projects. Especially in the field of immaterial labor, the 'projective city' diagnosed by Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello in 1999 is more effective than ever." 

From my contribution, an essay titled "Research Objectives," in which I discuss my research plans for the post-History in Motion future:  

"The art world is often marked by an odd just-in-time economy: Could you give a talk next Saturday? Could you fly over in ten days to provide a theoretical framework for our workshop? Could you write an essay for this artist’s retrospective, ready by the end of April? Such requests are obviously problematic when the day job is teaching, holding seminars, discussing theses, grading papers. However, as deliriously random as some of these requests can be, there is no denying the gratification of encountering some form of demand. By contrast, the neoliberal turn of academic funding in Europe takes the seemingly paradoxical form of neo-Stalinist five-year plans where scholars have to compete by submitting large, collective research proposals that have to fit a particular ideological agenda. In Holland, where essentially all research in the humanities has to be squeezed into the categories of 'creative industries' or 'e-humanities,' this development takes on traits of auto-parody. 

"The bureaucratic longue durée of the academic market is counterbalanced by ultra-fast personal projects. Philosopher Graham Harman recounts writing his book The Quadruple Object (2011) in six weeks – and live-blogging about it, thus pressuring himself to finish on time. The final draft took 86 hours and 34 minutes to complete. Graham lauds the liberating effect imposed by circumstances: 'Simply by identifying all the operating constraints on a given project, one’s room for free decision is narrowed and focused to a manageable range, and the specters of nothingness and infinity soon dissipate in the rising sun. When that happens, it becomes possible to summarize your life’s work in a mere six weeks of writing.' Regardless of whether this is truly a model even within Harman’s field, it is hard to see how such a “summarizing” approach could be applied to most disciplines in the humanities, such as art history. In that case, a sweeping synthesis or programmatic statement could certainly be whipped up in a limited amount of time (after a life’s work of de facto preparation), but the very existence of the discipline depends on painstaking and often lengthy historical research. 

"The question thus becomes one of projecting and propelling one’s project(s) outside of the academic Planwirtschaft There clearly is an urgent need to create 'precarious forms of autonomy within the institution,' as Gerald Raunig puts it. This also necessitates moves outside the university: research in the interstices, in the space where academic and cultural markets intersect and sometimes clash. This means that one operates in an expanded and diffuse edu-factory that thrives on instability and self-exploitation. However, the situation faced by scholars who opt for the more standard approach and have a go at the small amount of big money available for the humanities is ultimately not much less precarious. The crucial petite différence is that the focus on a few large funding bodies tends to create a horizon of thought that is rarely called into question; the very scarcity of options acts as a perverse disincentive for scholars to problematize their own research objects and their mode of production; to think and act in terms of different intellectual, affective, social, economic constellations."  


Image: Paul Chan, scene from the Badlands office (2011).