E-Flux Journal: World History and Earth Art

Issue no. 49 of e-flux journal contains my essay "World History and Earth Art." This text takes as its point of departure Jonas Staal's smartphone app  and web site, The Venice Biennale Ideological Guide 2013.  

I use this interactive work as a conceptual tool to reconsider both big and more modest questions involving the state, its tenuous but destructive grasp on history, and its role in the data-mining operation that our information economy has increasingly become. 

In the process, the various other artworks and cultural phenomena that are being discussed also serve to produce a richer reading and more substantial critique of the Guide - as a concrete and specific intervention in the quantitative turn that culture is undergoing.

Sean Snyder: No Apocalypse, Not Now

Currently the Kunstverein in Cologne is showing Sean Snyder's solo No Apocalypse, Not Now (till December 22). The exhibition could be seen as a counterpart of Snyder's 2009 exhibition Index at the ICA. Index was a project for which Snyder intended to digitize and upload all his works, destroying their old media - analog videos, photo contact sheets, and so on. 

At the ICA and ever since, Index has been represented by black-and-white photographs of media in various states of photographic enlargement and abstraction (and in various phases of destruction). The projected uploading operation was never realized, and between 2009 and 2013 Snyder's practice was on hiatus. In the main space of No Apocalypse, Not Now, Snyder is showing some of the Index photos together a selection of videos that have as it were re-emerged from Index. However, they have been transformed in the process: they're all shown on the same old-school monitors, even those that were originally projections. They have been abstracted and flattened out, and made more fully comparable in the process. New and at times genuinely illuminating interactions and interferences emerge between different pieces; this is such a strong reconfiguration that it is effectively a new work, like Duchamp's Boîte-en-valise

In separate spaces, two videos are screened that were made around the same time as Index: Exhibition and Afghanistan. They, too, were included in the 2009 Index show at the ICA. Here, they are set apart from the earlier, "indexed" videos as large projections, suggesting that there is life besides and beyond Index

For a small catalogue/brochure that visitors can purchase at the Kunstverein for one euro, I have adapted and updated an unpublished article on Snyder from 2009, "Two or Three Things I Think I Know About Sean Snyder." At the time, I regarded the text as an attempt to state some "basic banalities" about an artist whose reception, I felt, was still in its infancy. While things have not really moved forward in the meantime, the show in Cologne might help change his. It certainly convinced me that one of these days I have to write an entirely new text that more fully reflects my current thoughts on Snyder's practice.

Slow Motion

Book distribution to and in North America appears to be a sluggish process. While some copies of History in Motion made it to Brooklyn in time for the book launch/screening at Light Industry on October 22 (see photo), the remainder still appears to be stuck in transit. 

If you're American or Canadian and don't want to wait, visiting http://amazon.co.uk or one of the other European amazon branches might be a good idea.