Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge
PART 2: On Wandering

About

Unfinished Systems of Non-Knowledge

Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge
Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge is a long-term research project initiated in 2014 by curator, writer and researcher Christel Vesters. The project finds its starting point in the premise that art produces its own form of knowledge; a mode of thinking and knowing that in part bypasses the intellect and passes through the experiential, the associative, the speculative and the imaginary. In the last years we have organized lectures, workshops and public events with performances and different kinds of artistic, curatorial and academic presentations. The research has also served as a backbone for various essays and other writings which have been (re)published in on this website. Can or does art produce its own kind of knowledge? And if so, what kind of knowledge is this? What drives it, and how does it operate? Where is the overlap or synergy with more accepted and formal domains and methods of knowledge production? And what value do we place on curiosity and imagination in today’s knowledge-driven economy? These were some of the questions that kick started the longer-term research project Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge. The aim is to explore these questions not only from a theoretical perspective but also from an artistic one, aligning the project with the modus operandi of artistic research and other forms of practice-based research. The title of the project Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge is adopted from Georges Bataille’s incomplete and unpublished fifth volume of La Somme athéologique (1953/54) which collected his aphorisms, notes, lectures and musings on the idea of inner experience, meditation and radical theology. Non-knowledge, according to the French philosopher is ‘that which results from every proposition when we are looking to go to the fundamental depths of its content, and which makes us uneasy.’ Confronting ourselves with that which we don’t know or don’t understand takes courage. Allowing ourselves to abandon the beaten track of conventional knowledge, to think outside the box, to challenge consensus and be open to thinking things differently, is the humble pursuit of this project and the invitation we extent to everyone who wants to participate.

PART 1: On Seeing and Knowing

On Seeing and Knowing
PART 1 of the longer-term research project Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge took place in September 2014, at the Theatrum Anatomicum De Waag in the city centre of Amsterdam. Its point of departure was a set of questions investigating the nature of art-as-knowledge and its potential vis-à-vis more accepted domains of knowledge production such as the so-called hard sciences. Can or does art produce its own kind of knowledge? And if so, what kind of knowledge is this? What drives it, and how does it operate? Where is the overlap or synergy with more accepted domains of knowledge production, such as the ‘hard’ sciences? And what value do we place on curiosity and imagination in today’s knowledge-driven economy? To answer these questions Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge PART 1 explores the dialogues between art, knowledge and science. Together with an astrophysicist, a curator and an artist we revisited examples from the early Modern period when art and science were not yet strictly separate disciplines, and when curiosity and an unbound imagination were the driving force for many new discoveries. Each in their own way, the three presenters, astrophysicist Vincent Icke, artist Jochen Dehn and curator Natasha Ginwala all grapple with the phenomenon of the unknown and not-knowing. The examples and experiments they presented all test the conventional ideas of knowledge and models of knowledge production, occupying that ambiguous space in-between (what we know and not yet know), looking for ways to communicate and express their speculations and findings. Another recurring theme throughout the day was the friction between empirical and rational modes of knowing, between seeing and knowing, and the quest to explore the un-known, to imagine beyond the visible, in short, to search for new possibilities of knowledge.

It all starts with a question...

In a recent YouTube lecture, astrophysicist and artist Vincent Icke paraphrases the White Queen from Alice in Wonderland, saying ‘Some days I have believed more than six impossible things before breakfast.’ Icke continues that it is more important to create knowledge than to possess it, but the emphasis here seems to be on the verb believing. All research, or search for knowledge, starts with a question, with curiosity, but also with a belief that what we do not yet know or see, and cannot yet prove, might nonetheless be true. In his lecture Vincent Icke discussed what it means to do research, whether in ‘hard’ sciences or in the arts, amongst others by looking at the work and discoveries of the 17th-century scientist, Christiaan Huygens. Exploring the wondrous world of the universe, the summum of a terra incognita Huygens set out to prove and measure the invisible like light waves and gravity. Huygens was not only a gifted mathematician, astronomer and physicist whose contribution to the development of the telescope resulted in pioneering discoveries, but he was also one of the first writers of science fiction. His Cosmotheoros, published in 1698, speculates in great detail about the existence of life on other planets. The tension between rational and speculative modes of knowledge production, between objective perception and imagination, was a recurring theme in the lives and works of the six 19th-century protagonists captured in Double Lives, a research project developed by curator and researcher Natasha Ginwala for this year’s 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. Taking the scientific discoveries, image-making and personal biographies of these hybrid individuals as her lead, Ginwala explores their lives at the intersection of Modernity, knowledge formation and Empire – as multifaceted attempts in constructing what may be termed an ‘Image of the World’. Ginwala is particularly interested in connecting modes of image-making that lie at the crossroads of art and science, with the early history of photography and another invention from that same period – the stereoscope. This optical device animates images by using two images to make one, with the effect of depth and mass. It is examined as an epistemic tool to survey these ambiguous figures and the dialectical forms of knowing their time and place in history. Jochen Dehn is as much a scientist, inventor and explorer as he is an artist. Seeking inspiration from meteoric collisions and ancient rock crystals, he seeks to expand the boundaries of knowledge. Many of his performances take the form of experiments, yet are never conceived with a specific goal in mind, intended rather as open-ended inquiries. In his performance School for Invisibility – Animal Technologies, Soap Films and Miracles Dehn seeks to discover the possibilities of becoming less concrete, more diffuse, and of dissolving oneself without disappearing. Using methodologies and demonstrations from natural science disciplines to examine phenomena pertaining to the invisible, together with his audience, Dehn considers theoretical and philosophical issues such as the nature of a moment, an instant, and the environment. During his demonstration-performance, viewers are continuously set on the wrong foot, as the artist toys with the limitations of our thinking, testing our need for proof as a condition to know or believe. The idea of becoming invisible without disappearing becomes a metaphor for our current condition or need to understand, to know through scientific facts and objective deduction, and to only believe what we can know (to be true). But what if we cannot understand or comprehend what our eyes can see? Do we dismiss it, or do we cross the threshold and enter a space of imagination, curious intuitions, speculations and the unknown? Dehn takes his audience along with him as he makes use of hard facts to create a different model of thought, one in which one plus one can be three.

Between Lecture Theatre and Laboratory

The complexities of these confrontations between art and science vis-à-vis ideas of knowledge, could never be covered in one afternoon, nor should we want to. The programme today is loosely assembled in a deliberately fragmentary and “unfinished” structure and will bring together different ideas on and examples of ‘other knowledge’. It will articulate the gaps and black holes, rather than presenting a coherent and picture-perfect knowledge. The lectures, performances and presentations, juxtapose philosophical reflection and theoretical exposé’s with hands-on experiments and experiences of art-as knowledge. In doing so, Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge seeks to combine the lecture theatre with the laboratory, or, to put it differently, to explore the boundaries between rational with empirical modes of knowledge production. And we couldn’t have found a more appropriate location in Amsterdam to do so, than the Theatrum Anatomicum in the landmark De Waag. In the 17th Century the location was used by the Surgeons Guild as a teaching auditorium. As such it was a site where empirical forms of the production and transfer of knowledge took place. In addition, its particular architecture evoked not only a collective experience of wonder and exploration, but also a sense of collective knowledge, something that in today’s modes of knowledge production is almost extinct. Especially Jochen Dehn’s performance seeks to re-animate this atmosphere of collective wonder and curiosity that was characteristic of the French 17th and 18th Century Science Salons. Website Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge PART1

PART 2: On Wandering

On Wandering
Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge PART 2: On Wandering explores the potential of wandering as an alternative way of knowing and being in the world. Whereas conventional Western knowledge systems tend to follow a linear model often structured around predetermined trajectories, wandering allows us to deviate from the beaten path and ‘to abandon the straight line of the disciplinary regime’. It is in this potential that wandering becomes a powerful strategy, counteracting the straight line of knowledge systems and other conventional models that direct us how to act, think or be. Wanderlust refers to a curiosity-driven mind-set, the longing to discover uncharted terrain without a settled plan or fixed objective. Guided by chance, the figure of the Wanderer embraces whatever he or she comes across. It is in this sense that art and literature both adopted the figure of the Wanderer as the personification of the romantic; free spirited, the unbound vagabond. However, there is a dark and dystopian side to the figure of the Wanderer as well. The Wanderer who is not only geographically lost, but also mentally disoriented; lost in his or her own mind, his or her own way of thinking, his or her own logic. Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge PART 2: On Wandering is particularly interested in the subversive and political potential of wandering as an alternative knowledge system. It could be argued that wandering as a mode of knowledge production generates a series of distinct knowledge-montages in which ideas, objects, persons and situations derived from different contexts are being combined, cutting across the established boundaries between disciplines, historical periods and geographical contexts. This methodological freedom is a widely accepted (research) practice amongst visual artists and other cultural practitioners, even among so-called fundamental scientists. It is the cornerstone of our imagination. However it is still frowned upon as a legitimate mode of research as it does not adhere to science’s principles of objectivity and reproducibility. What does wandering yield with regards to conventional modes of knowledge production, and what do we lose? In addition to its poetic and artistic potential, in what situations does wandering become a political act? And what happens when the Wanderer gets caught up in the idiosyncrasies of his or her own mind, lost and disconnected from the real world? Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge PART 2: On Wandering explores these questions from a contemporary perspective. Circling around the ideas of wandering, Wanderlust, and its counterpart, Getting Lost, this journey will take shape in a two-day public event consisting of lectures, presentations and performances, and take place on 9 & 10 February 2018 in two historic venues in the city-centre of Amsterdam. The programme traverses various historical and geographical contexts, and engages in different fields and modes of research, such as (art) history, artistic practice, curating, scientific experiments, cartography and storytelling. Concepts and perspectives that used to be radically distinct are being brought together in this two-day interdisciplinary public programme, allowing for crossovers and new insights to come to the fore. Together with the audience, artists and thinkers USNK PART 2, will explore the poetic and political potential of wandering in an overly rationalized society driven by facts, results and profit.

Event

What

Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge PART 2: On Wandering was a three-day public event, which took place on Thursday 8, Friday 9 & Saturday 10 February 2018. The programme consisted of lectures, presentations, performances and seminars, and took place in two historic locations in the city centre of Amsterdam: De Waag and Het Trippenhuis. During these two days we wandered through various historical and geographical contexts, and engaged in different modes of research, such as (art) history, artistic practice, curating, cartography and storytelling. On this website you can find background information on the participants, an archive of essays and other related materials, as well as documentation of different lectures, presentations and of the discussions that unfolded during PART 2: On Wandering. Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge PART 2 is conceived in partnership with De Appel arts centre, and the University of Amsterdam.
Audience in the Anatoomical Theatre De Waag, Thursday evening, February 8, 2018

Where

Where

USNK is thrilled to announce its two main venues for its second event On Wandering: Het Trippenhuis, seat of the Royal Dutch Academy of Science and the Academy of Arts, and the Anatomical Theatre at De Waag. Both buildings have played an important role in the history of art, science and knowledge, and still do so today. The anatomical theatre in De Waag provided the backdrop for Rembrandt’s famous painting ‘The Anatomical Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp’ (1632), and in 1812 Het Trippenhuis became the residence of the Royal Institute of Sciences, Literature and Fine Arts, which was founded by King Louis Napoleon a couple of years earlier. Today, both venues continue to be a place for scientific development, exchange and discovery.

Who

Alena Alexandrova

Alena Alexandrova

The Universe is Radiant: Reimagining Mnemosyne

Departing from Roger Caillois’ proposition for a 'diagonal science', cultural theorist and curator Alena Alexandrova will discuss art practices, which enact and revisit forms of visual knowledge as inaugurated by Aby Warburg’s last project the Atlas Mnemosyne. She will explore Batia Suter’s Parallel Encyclopedia I and II (2008, 2016) and its promise of another type, parallel, or diagonal knowledge through the open resonance with the structures of devices as the encyclopedia, the atlas, and the map. She will address, the way Parallel Encyclopedia works with the weight of the photographic image as a document, found image, fragment, and its relationship to memory as a cumulative and entropic process. Alena Alexandrova (Bulgaria, 1975) is a cultural theorist and an independent curator based in Amsterdam. She is an associate professor at the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen, Norway, and teaches at the Fine Arts Department, Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Currently she is writing a book entitled Anarchic Infrastructures: Re-Casting the Archive, Displacing Chronologies. She is the author of Breaking Resemblance: The Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art (Fordham University Press, 2017) and regularly contributes to art publications and catalogues. Alexandrova curated a sequence of exhibitions exploring the conceptual figure of “anarcheology” in the practices of present-day artists. She holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam.

Programme

SATURDAY, February 10, 2018 De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4 13-17 h.

Keyterm

Aby Warburg Atlas Mnemosyne
Alena Alexandrova's website Batia Suter's website

Maria Barnas

Maria Barnas
Maria Barnas (Netherlands, 1973) is a visual artist, poet and writer based in Amsterdam and Bergen, Norway. She studied visual arts at the Rietveld Academie, was a resident at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, and was also recently resident at the Baltic Art Center in Visby, Sweden. She has authored two novels and her debut collection of poems Twee Zonnen (Arbeiderspers, 2003) was awarded the C. Buddingh’ Prize for best poetry debut. Her latest poetry collection, Jaja de oerknal (de Arbeiderspers, 2013), was awarded the Anna Bijns Prize in 2014. Her visual work has been exhibited, among other places, in the Netherlands, Brazil, Germany and Belgium. Maria regularly writes about art and literature for De Groene Amsterdammer and Vrij Nederland and for the literary magazine De Gids. Her columns for the NRC Handelsblad were collected in Fantastisch (2010).

Programme

FRIDAY, February 9, 2018 Het Trippenhuis 13 - 17 h.
poetry speculation
"Lady Windermere’s Escape" visual essay by Maria Barnas (2015)

René ten Bos

René ten Bos

In Praise of Drifters and Saunters

Finding your way in times of complexity - does this mean that we need to follow a straight line, a method ('hodos' is the ancient Greek word for 'road')? Complexity, ten Bos argues, compels us to reconsider our beliefs in method, in linearity, and in causality. He will take issue with standard ideas about how scientists proceed and provide some suggestion about how to wander, to drift and to amble. Complexity sciences require different approaches. People might expect lessons in surviving the labyrinth. Philosopher René ten Bos (Netherlands, 1959) is Professor of Philosophy at the Department of Management Sciences at Radboud University, Nijmegen. In April 2017, he was appointed as the Thinker Laureate in the Netherlands. Ten Bos is the author of many books on a variety of topics ranging from ethics to management ecology and the chemistry of water. He is also a columnist for Het Financieele Dagblad, the Dutch version of the Financial Times.

Programme

FRIDAY, February 9, 2018 Het Trippenhuis 13 - 17 h.
René ten Bos' website

Lucy Cotter

Lucy Cotter

Art Knowledge: Unknowing the Known

Contemporary art often engages with what Chus Martinez once called 'the riddle of ambiguity', a constant alteration of the relations between matter, ideas and words, bringing about a radical rethinking of how things interact and what they might become. The open-endedness of this exercise means that the non-knowledge brought into existence through art can neither be defined nor predicted in advance. Even if artists incorporate formal knowledge into their artistic research, their work often insists on a stubborn closeness to the unknowable. This lecture reflects on art’s insistent trajectory from the known towards the unknown. Looking at recent examples by emerging and established artists, it asks how contemporary art works provoke the unknowing of the known and questions current conditions for artists to engage with the unknown. Lucy Cotter (Ireland, 1973) is an independent writer and curator. Among other projects, she was curator of Cinema Olanda: Wendelien van Oldenborgh, the Dutch representation at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017), with a parallel programme at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and EYE Film Museum. Widely published in catalogues and journals of contemporary art, Cotter is currently authoring a book entitled Art Knowledge: Between the Known and the Unknown and is editor of the forthcoming volume Reclaiming Artistic Research. Cotter has lectured at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Sandberg Institute and was head of the newly founded Master Artistic Research at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. She holds a PhD in Cultural Analysis from the University of Amsterdam. Images: Arin Rungjang, (video stills) 246247596248914102516... And then there were none, 2017 courtesy the artist Portrait by Ari Versluis
Negative Capability
Lucy Cotter's website MaHKUscript Journal of Fine Art Research issue 3: “Reclaiming Artistic Research—First Thoughts”

Jeremiah Day

Jeremiah Day

To a Person Sitting in Darknes (Camp Darby Blues)

Across the Tuscan landscape, Jeremiah Day finds submerged weapons of mass destruction and the site of Ezra Pound's imprisonment in this journey at the intersection between citizenship and empire. The NATO vase of Camp Darby has been a site of the Italian post-war imagination, and there the legacy of the largest protest in the history of the world - the 2003 actions against the Iraq War - resonates, beneath the ground. In that time it was often said 'Not in Our Name', but if not in our names, what other parts of us were involved? The Amsterdam- and Berlin-based artist Jeremiah Day (United States, 1974) studied art at the University of California, Los Angeles and subsequently completed the residency programme at the Rijksakademie. Day is also trained in movement, working regularly with the pioneer of postmodern dance, Simone Forti. Day's work establishes a montage/narrative form, where political and personal realities intertwine through different techniques, including photography, video and movement. Through this idiosyncratic form of non-fiction, Day explores the commemoration of political struggle as a form of engagement in itself. In 2017, Jeremiah Day earned a doctorate from the Free University of Amsterdam (VU) for his practice-based project drawing upon Hannah Arendt and Allan Kaprow as the basis for renewed exploration of art’s role in civil society. He is represented by Arcade, London and Ellen de Bruijne Projects in Amsterdam.

Programme

SATURDAY, February 10, 2018 De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4 13-17 h.
Review of the solo exhibition “If You Want Blood” (London, 2013) on Frieze. Video documentation of the performance “To a Person Sitting in Darkness (#2 Perimeter’s Walk)” (Italy, 2015).

Nick Dunn

Nick Dunn
Nick Dunn (UK, 1974) is Executive Director of ImaginationLancaster, an open and exploratory design research lab at Lancaster University, where he is Professor of Urban Design. He is also Associate Director of the Institute for Social Futures, where he leads research on the Future of Cities. Dunn's work responds to the contemporary city and is explored through experimentation and writing on the nature of urban space: its design, appropriation and regulation. He has written numerous publications related to architecture, art practices and urbanism, and had work exhibited across the UK, China and Ukraine. His latest book, Dark Matters: A Manifesto for the Nocturnal City (Zero, 2016), is an exploration of walking as cultural practice, the politics of space and the right to the city.

Programme

SATURDAY, February 10, 2018 De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4 19 - 22 h.
Mobile Utopia 1851-2051 research project on alternative futures. A conversation on nightwalks between Nick Dunn and Expodium in Unmaking The Netherlands platform.

Axel Heil

Axel Heil
Axel Heil (Germany, 1965) is an artist, curator, writer and producer. He has studied painting in Karlsruhe, Paris and The Hague, as well as art history and ethnology in Heidelberg and Berlin. In 1999 he established fluid, a production platform for a wide range of activities. With fluid he produces monographs, artists’ books, and editions, as well as curating exhibitions on phenomenological aspects of artistic traditions and movements. Heil’s published essays range from Pablo Picasso to Asger Jorn, and Maurizio Cattelan to the young generation of artists. Since 2001 he has been Professor for Experimental Transfers at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe. Heil is also one of the co-founders of the Mnemosyne Research Group in Hamburg. Together with Roberto Ohrt, he realized the exhibition Aby Warburg – Mnemosyne Atlas at ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, in 2016.

Programme

SATURDAY, February 10, 2018 De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4 13-17 h.

Keyterm

Aby Warburg Atlas Mnemosyne

NIGHTWALKERS

NIGHTWALKERS
NIGHTWALKERS is an initiative of the Utrecht-based urban ‘do tank’ Expodium. Founded in 2005, Expodium is a collective of three people: Nikos Doulos, Friso Wiersum and Bart Witte. Through a variety of methods of artistic research, Expodium generates vital information about urban areas and at the same time activates those areas and their users. The NIGHTWALKERS project was formed to investigate the potentiality of an area’s creative forces by raising awareness of its existing social context, and to collectively suggest various formulations of agency and bottom-up response. NIGHTWALKERS is a series of voluntary collective night strolls in the city followed by a discussion about the subconscious relations between the participants and the land they walked on. NIGHTWALKERS attempts to abolish entrenched notions of authorship and suggests night walking as an open tool for anyone to adopt and enhance. Thus far, NIGHTWALKERS has taken to the streets in Utrecht, Amsterdam, Belgrade, Umea, Helsinki and Rotterdam.

Programme

SATURDAY, February 10, 2018 De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4 19 - 22 h.
NIGHTWALKERS website Expodium's Unmaking the Netherlands platform

Roberto Ohrt

Roberto Ohrt
Roberto Ohrt (Chile, 1954) finished his studies with a doctoral thesis on avant-gardes in 1988. Since then he has published numerous essays on the Situationists and on such artists as Martin Kippenberger, Raymond Pettibon, Paul Thek and Jason Rhoades. His most recent work was dedicated to the almost-forgotten art historian Edgar Wind (1900–1971), and to the artists Wols and Ed Kienholz. Ohrt has organized exhibitions for the Centre Georges Pompidou, ZKM Karlsruhe, Transcontinental Nomadenoase (Miami and Mexico City), and the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg. Furthermore, he co-founded the Akademie Isotrop (Hamburg, 1996–2001), Silverbridge (Paris/San Francisco), the 8th Salon, Hamburg, and the Contemporary Art Club in Vienna (Vienna, 2011). In May 2012 he started the presentation of Aby Warburg´s Bilderatlas in the 8th Salon and in 2016 he co-curated the exhibition Aby Warburg – Mnemosyne Atlas at ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe.

Programme

SATURDAY, February 10, 2018 De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4 13-17 h.

Keyterm

Aby Warburg Atlas Mnemosyne

Christel Vesters

Christel Vesters
Christel Vesters (Netherlands, 1972) is a curator, writer and teacher based in Amsterdam. She studied art history and curating in Amsterdam, New York and London and graduated cum laude from the University of Amsterdam with an MA in Art History. Vesters has an established career in art criticism and curating. She has curated numerous exhibitions and discursive projects, including the successful lecture series and publication Now is the Time: Art & Theory in the 21st Century (2009). In addition, Vesters is curator of the long-term research project Unfinished Systems of Non—Knowledge, which focuses on the power of art to evoke other ways of thinking. Vesters regularly contributes to various international art magazines and art publications, including Afterall, FlashArt and MetropolisM, and the magazines De Groene Amsterdammer and De Gids. In 2014 she was the MondriaanFund curator-in-residence at CCS Bard, New York, where she divided her time between research and teaching.

Programme

THURSDAY, February 8, 2018 De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4 20 - 22 h.
Christel’s essay on exhibitions as thinking spaces. Christel’s essay on Aby Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne.

Sigrid Weigel

Sigrid Weigel

Wandering, Thinking in Transition, and Boundary Cases. Knowledge set in Motion by Warburg, Benjamin and other authors of Kulturwissenschaft

In her keynote lecture, Sigrid Weigel discusses symptomatic figures of knowledge invented by several Jewish-German intellectuals who around 1900 developed a kind of thinking in transition, entitled 'Kulturwissenschaft'. Finding themselves in a position either off academia or at the margins of their discipline, these authors started to transgress the borders between fields, subjects, and cultures. In their work they diverged from conventional methods and narratives based on chronology, typology, and a history of progress and sought to cast light on the survival (Nachleben) of ritual or cult, myths, and religion in modern secular cultures. Several of the epistemological figures invented by these authors originate in concrete human cultural practices—such as wandering or flânerie, reading or dreaming—and get turned into topoi of a critical thinking that leads beyond traditional scientific genres such as system, classification, rise and fall, cause and effect. They lead e.g. from wandering of images and symbols through time and space to the wandering eyes as agents of a figurative epistemology of wandering (Warburg), from the Flaneur’s fascination for thresholds in the city’s topography to the threshold of dream and consciousness as a constellation of ‘dialectic at a standstill’ resp. threshold-knowledge (Benjamin). Other authors invented boundary concepts, which set the frontiers between separated fields of knowledge—such as body and soul—in motion (Freud) or examined the migration of language from the religious to the profane register (Scholem). Sigrid Weigel (Germany, 1950) is former director of the Zentrum für Literatur und Kulturforschung (ZfL, Berlin). Awarded the Aby Warburg Prize in 2016, Weigel’s interdisciplinary work encompasses Literature and Cultural Studies; her publications focus on Jewish-German intellectual history (Heine, Freud, Warburg, Scholem, Benjamin, Arendt, Susan Taubes), cultural approach to science studies (inheritance, genealogy, neuro-psychoanalysis) and Image Science. Weigel's numerous books include Walter Benjamin. Images, the Creaturely, and the Holy (2008) and Grammatologie der Bilder (Grammatology of Images) (Suhrkamp, 2015), and she edited Aby Warburg: Werke in einem Band (with M. Treml and P. Ladwig, Suhrkamp, 2010). She is currently working on a book on the Cultural History of Lament and Compassion and is conducting an interdisciplinary laboratory The Epistemic Reverse Side of Instrumental Images in the field of facial expression and “affective computing”.

Programme

THURSDAY, February 8, 2018 De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4 20 - 22 h.

Keyterm

Aby Warburg Atlas Mnemosyne
Sigrid Weigel’s article “Epistemology of Wandering, Tree and Taxonomy" on Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne project (Images Re-vues, 2013).

Programme

Programme

THURSDAY, February 8, 2018

20 - 22 h. Christel Vesters, Introduction to PART 2: On Wandering Sigrid Weigel, Wandering, Thinking in Transition, and Boundary Cases

FRIDAY, February 9, 2018

13 - 17 h. A thought never unfolds in one straight line René ten Bos Maria Barnas Lucy Cotter

SATURDAY, February 10, 2018

13 - 17 h. Atlas Mnemosyne Revisited Mnemosyne Research Group (Roberto Ohrt & Axel Heil) To a Person Sitting in Darkness (Camp Darby Blues) Jeremiah Day The Universe is Radiant: Reimagining Mnemosyne Alena Alexandrova 19 - 22 h. Wandering as Deviant Practice Nick Dunn Nightwalkers and others

ARCHIVE

Lectures and Presentations

Wandering, Thinking in Transition, and Boundary Cases - Sigrid Weigel

Keyterms

Atlas Mnemosyne

Atlas Mnemosyne

From 1925 till his early death in 1929, the German art historian Aby Warburg tirelessly worked on his Bilder Atlas Mnemosyne. Adamant to break away from conventional art historical methodologies, Warburg devised the Atlas as a tool to understand how images mutate and live on beyond a certain historical period. At the time of his death, the Atlas consisted of over sixty wooden Tafeln on which Warburg had arranged and rearranged photographic reproductions of art-historical and cosmographical images, including maps, manuscript pages and contemporary images drawn from newspapers and magazines; each plate expressing, by way of its ‘visual knowledge-montage’, a different theme. The anachronistic displays allowed for a transversal reading, articulating similarities and proximities, rather than difference and distance. Furthermore, the arrangements Warburg created were updated each time new images or ideas entered his archive, challenging the concept of one stable art historical narrative based on fixed periodization. Another interesting aspect of the Atlas is that none of the plates bear explanatory texts. Instead, they operate via ‘alliances of attraction’ foregrounding the power of the image to evoke an idea or understanding, rather than through language or discourse. Notions of movement, mobility and migration were crucial for Warburg, as through them culture is able to survive and outlast history. Furthermore, Warburg's interest in telecommunication and media reproducibility, as in photography and printing technologies, shows that technology can enable new forms of 'Bewegtes Leben' or new 'Bilderfahreuge' (Image vehicles). In her text Epistemology of Wandering, Tree and Taxonomy: The system figure in Warburg’s Mnemosyne project within the history of cartographic and encyclopaedic knowledge, Sigrid Weigel accurately describes the physical and material existence and uses of the Atlas and its effect on our understanding of and relation to it: “When Warburg himself used his boards as a background stage for his lectures in order to visually present a certain configuration of images or to show the “migration” (Wanderung) of symbols, motifs, gestures and pathos formulas he was interpreting in his talk, this situation turned the plates into a specific site of knowledge […] Listening to the lecture, the audience, could with their eyes, wander from one table to the other and visually move between the images of each board, up and down, left and right, back and forth. […] In this situation, that is to say when the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne was in situ and in actu, the series of plates effectively constructed a sort of Denkraum, a common space of thought.” Warburg originally intended to publish the Atlas in a volume, but was unable to finish his project due to a fatal heart attack. After Warburg’s untimely death, the Atlas was dismantled and the images stored in different places. Only recently has the Atlas Mnemosyne become the subject of renewed interests and study. Today, it inspires transdisciplinary discourse in fields including but not limited to philosophy, anthropology and art history. [sources: Christopher D. Johnson, Memory, Metaphor and Aby Warburg’s Atlas of Images (Cornell University Press, 2012) pp 8-14, educ.fc, warburg.library.cornell.edu
Browse online the Atlas Mnemosyne panels

Dérive

Dérive

The term dérive, in English ‘drift’ or ‘drifting’, refers to the Situationists' experimental technique of rapid passage through urban space, first initiated and practiced in Amsterdam by utopian architect and artist Constant Nieuwenhuys. As Guy Debord described it in the Théorie de la dérive, which was first published in the Belgian surrealist journal Les Lèvres Nues in 1956, dérive is a technique that differs from the classical notions of journey or strolling, for it ‘involves playful-constructive behaviour and awareness of psychogeographical effects’. To counter the urbanization of the city that fragmented and separated its unity, the aim of dérive, according to Debord, was to diminish fixed borders and bridge delineated regions. It promoted the exploration of the urban field in all sorts of new forms of labyrinths, which could potentially bring the city’s fragmented parts back together. The dérive was one of the practice-theory hybrids, first conceived of by Constant and developed further by the Situationists, which aimed to unify urban space via experiments in behaviour and disorientation of the senses. In the same spirit as sneaking into an abandoned building by night, hitchhiking through Paris during a public transport strike without a destination for the sole purpose of adding to the confusion, or wandering through the forbidden spaces of subterranean catacombs, the dérive proposed an experimental mode of being in the world and a psychogeographical method of studying the urban fabric of the modern city.

HOW TO dérive according to SI:

Drop motives for movement and be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters you may find there. One can dérive alone or in groups of two or three people who have reached the same level of awareness. The average duration of a dérive is one day. The start and end times are not necessarily related to the solar day, but it should be noted that the last hours of the night are generally unsuitable for dérives. For a dérive, the maximum area of the spatial field does not extend beyond the entirety of a large city and its suburbs, and at its minimum can be limited to a small self-contained ambiance: a single neighbourhood or even a single block of houses if it’s interesting enough. [sources: cddc.vt.edu, bopsecrets.org, situationistlibrary.wordpress.com, bopsecrets.org]

Situationist International

Situationist International

The Situationist International (1957-1972) was an international network of avant-garde artists, writers, cultural theorists and intellectuals who developed a radical critique of 20th century capitalist society. ‘First of all, we think the world must be changed’, was the opening sentence of Guy Debord’s text Rapport sur la construction des situations (1957), which he presented at the Cosio d’Arroscia conference, when the Situationist International was founded. The movement consisted, among others, of factions of former avant-garde groups, such as the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus (former CoBrA, Asger Jorn, Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio, Piero Simondo), the Lettrist International (Guy Debord), and individual artists, such as former CoBrA frontman Constant Nieuwenhuys, the Dutch artist Jacqueline de Jong, the Hungarian architect Attila Kotányi and the Belgian writer Raoul Vaneigem. Drawing from For an Architecture of Situation, a text written in 1953 by Constant, the Situationists put forward their vision of everyday life. According to them, everyday life was not separate from art, and it should be based on the spirit of the discovery and construction of ‘fleeting moments’ or ambiances, situations, that is, to be experienced collectively. The SI’s activities can be roughly divided into two phases. During the first, between 1957 and 1962, they developed their theoretical programme, based on concepts such as constructed situations, psychogeography, dérive, unitary urbanism, détournement, culture and decomposition, and the critique of the society of the spectacle. In the second phase, between 1962 and 1972, the focus shifted to a more political-activist agenda, whereby Guy Debord in particular analysed the socio-political implications of the commodification of life under contemporary capitalism. [sources: members.chello.nl, bopsecrets.org, situationistlibrary.wordpress.com]
Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle (pdf) Guy Debord’s Theory of the Dérive (pdf) Interview with Mckenzie Wark on the Situationist Movement and his book The Beach Beneath the Streets: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International (2011), 2013.

Aby Warburg

Aby Warburg

Aby Warburg (1866 –1929) was a German art historian, specialised in High Renaissance art and the Florentine milieu of patrons like de' Medici. Warburg’s image-based approach to art history influenced the emerging field of Kulturwissenschaft (science of culture), and to this day his research into relations between visual motives across different historical and geographical contexts inspires cross-disciplinary discourse both inside and outside the cultural historical field. Warburg was also a passionate collector of books and spent twenty years building a library, which he conceived as a tool for a new science of culture. According to family legend, Warburg ceded his birth right to the family business to his younger brother Max, who, in exchange, agreed to buy him all the books he desired. At the time of Aby Warburg's death, the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (KBW) contained over 60,000 volumes. Nachleben While in Florence studying the intellectual and social circle of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Warburg realized that antiquity and its continuous re-surfacing through different image motifs affects the understanding of culture. He decided to further explore this phenomenon, which he called the Nachleben der Antike (Afterlife of Antiquity). Warburg’s interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach deviated from the conventional art historical practice of that time; it prompted a methodological shift, and included the study of a variety of sources and different types of artefacts. His research considered not only Western European imagery, but also non-Western art, decorative arts, science, technology, astrology, religion, spiritualism, and local folklore. Wandering through various disciplines, fields and cultures, and through different historical and geographical contexts, Warburg’s mode of research was born, in part, out of the fact that his inquiries could not be exhausted through the formal stylistic methods of that time. Nor could conventional art history research accommodate the ethnological similarities (and disparities) between the western and non-western world, which he observed on his travels across the Atlantic at the Hopi people's reserves in New Mexico. KBW The Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg, which was originally located in Warburg's house but transferred to a new building in 1926, was not like any other art history library. The library covered a variety of subjects as diverse as astronomy, philosophy, art history, folklore, anthropology, religious history, philology, cosmology and psychology. Warburg considered his library as a Denkraum. Books, images and other miscellaneous printed matter were not categorized according to discipline, geography, or historical period, but according to a 'neighbourly' principle. Books were arranged and rearranged depending on Warburg’s current train of thought and in relation to the questions he was entertaining. Over time, the titles that were central to one line of thinking would prove to be of minor interest to another, and so the books would move within reach accordingly. Thus the relationships between neighbouring volumes also changed, ‘making the entire library at any given moment a portrait of thinking in action.’ Rather than being a system in which each piece of knowledge was allocated its fixed and proper position within the grander scheme of things, Warburg’s organic conception of his library allowed for a flexible ‘knowledge montage’ where different ‘elective affinities’ based on ‘intuitive associations’ took shape materially and spatially, and changed over time. In other words, Warburg’s library put knowledge in motion. As such, the library, Warburg’s dynamic Denkraum, provided the perfect habitat for him to start working more systematically on his image archive, resulting in what we have come to know as the Atlas Mnemosyne; a project through which he sought to formulate a ‘nameless science’ - a new art historical methodology in which he further explored his theory on Nachleben. [sources: warburg.sas.ac.uk, oxfordbibliographies.com, educ.fc]
The Warburg Institute website

CONTACT

Information

Information

info@unfinished-systems-of-nonknowledge.org

Colophon

Colophon

Curator Christel Vesters Project manager Bernie Deekens Research assistant Christina Ntanovasili Project assistant Charlotte Bijl Texts by Christel Vesters Christina Ntanovasili Graphic designer Arthur Roeloffzen Web developers van Leeuwen & van Leeuwen Partners De Appel University of Amsterdam Generously supported by Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and the Mondriaan Fund

Privacy Statement

Unfinished Systems of Non-Knowledge -- A project by PAR & H Foundation p/a Van Boetzelaerstraat 65-hs 1051 EA Amsterdam The Netherlands E-mail: contact@unfinished-systems-of-nonknowledge.org
Unfinished Systems of Non-Knowledge is a project by PAR & H Foundation, an organisation that initiates, develops and supports art and curatorial projects with a focus on research and interrelated histories. For each of its projects, PAR & H Foundation develops unique communication platforms, including a website, emailing (Mailchimp) and printed matter. Unfinished Systems of Non-Knowledge (hereinafter referred to as: ‘USNK’ or ‘we’), is a project that unravels the intricate connections between textile, history and society from a contemporary art perspective. On the website www.touch-trace.om (hereinafter referred to as ‘website’) Touch/Trace posts announcements and updates about this project and programme. Christel Vesters is a curator, writer and teacher based in Amsterdam. She studied art history and curating in Amsterdam, New York and London and graduated cum laude from the University of Amsterdam with an MA in Art History. Christel Vesters has an established career in art criticism and curating. She is the initiator and director of PAR & H Foundation. Privacy • It is important for PAR & H Foundation to protect and respect your privacy, and it is our goal to keep and process your personal data securely and appropriately. In our privacy policy you can read the terms for how we process your personal data and the rights you have when using this website. If you have questions about our privacy policy, please contact us at info@touch-trace.nl. • When you sign up to our newsletter we collect the information provided when signing up, being your name and email address. With your explicit permission, we use this information to send you updates about USNK and our programme. • The purpose of collecting and using your personal information is that there is some personal data that we need to know about you, in order to deliver our newsletter to you, such as your name and your email address. 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A cookie is a small data file on your computer’s hard drive containing information about which parts of our website you have visited. Cookies are reliable files and they cannot execute program code, transmit viruses or be used to collect information about what you otherwise may use your computer for. We use these functional cookies to ensure that our website is functioning as intended. To do this, Touch/Trace uses Google Analytics: a web analysis service, offered by Google, Inc. Touch/Trace has signed a data processor agreement with Google. We do not use cookies to store or collect personal information; Touch/Trace has made the Google Analytics cookies anonymous (the last 3 digits of the IP address remain unknown). The information about your website usage generated by the cookies is exchanged with and stored on Google servers in the United States. (2) Touch/Trace uses MailChimp for newsletters and press releases. Touch/Trace has signed a data processor agreement with MailChimp. 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Privacy Statement T/T

Touch/Trace: Researching Histories Through Textiles --- A project by PAR & H Foundation p/a Van Boetzelaerstraat 65-hs 1051 EA Amsterdam The Netherlands E-mail: info@touch-trace.nl
Touch/Trace: Researching Histories Through Textiles is a project by PAR & H Foundation, an organisation that initiates, develops and supports art and curatorial projects with a focus on research and interrelated histories. For each of its projects, PAR & H Foundation develops unique communication platforms, including a website, emailing (Mailchimp) and printed matter. Touch/Trace: Researching Histories Through Textiles (hereinafter referred to as: ‘Touch/Trace’ or ‘we’), is a project that unravels the intricate connections between textile, history and society from a contemporary art perspective. On the website www.touch-trace.om (hereinafter referred to as ‘website’) Touch/Trace posts announcements and updates about this project and programme. Christel Vesters is a curator, writer and teacher based in Amsterdam. She studied art history and curating in Amsterdam, New York and London and graduated cum laude from the University of Amsterdam with an MA in Art History. Christel Vesters has an established career in art criticism and curating. She is the initiator and director of PAR & H Foundation. Privacy • It is important for PAR & H Foundation to protect and respect your privacy, and it is our goal to keep and process your personal data securely and appropriately. In our privacy policy you can read the terms for how we process your personal data and the rights you have when using this website. If you have questions about our privacy policy, please contact us at info@touch-trace.nl. • When you sign up to our newsletter we collect the information provided when signing up, being your name and email address. With your explicit permission, we use this information to send you updates about Touch/Trace and our programme. • The purpose of collecting and using your personal information is that there is some personal data that we need to know about you, in order to deliver our newsletter to you, such as your name and your email address. We will delete your personal data when it is no longer relevant for the initial purpose for why it was collected, processed and saved. We do not sell, publish or in any other way forward your personal data to others. Your rights 1. Right to access: You have the right to get access to any information we have regarding you, what our purposes with the registration are and from where we have obtained the information. You have the right to get a copy of the personal data we have on you. If you want a copy of your personal data, you need to send a written request to info@touch-trace.nl. You can be asked to document that you are who you claim to be. 2. Right to correction: You have the right to get incorrect information about you corrected. If you find that Touch/Trace holds incorrect information about you, you are always welcome to write us an email so we can correct the information. 3. Right to deletion: You have the right to get all or some of your personal information deleted by us, if it does not conflict with another Dutch law. 4. Right to limit handling of personal data: You have the right to ask us to limit the handling of your personal data. 5. Right to oppose: You have the right to oppose our treatment of your personal data, in regards to direct marketing and profiling. 6. Right to revoke: You have the right to revoke your consent. If you wish to revoke your consent, please contact us at info@touch-trace.nl. 7. Right to complain: You have the right to make a complaint to the Dutch Privacy Comity (Nederlandse Privacycommissie). Contact information is: Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, Bezuidenhoutseweg 30, 2594 AV Den Haag. Postal address: Postbus 93374, 2509 AJ DEN HAAG. Website: www.autoriteitpersoonsgegevens.nl Touch/Trace collects a number of personal data (1) With the help of cookies we can optimize the website. A cookie is a small data file on your computer’s hard drive containing information about which parts of our website you have visited. Cookies are reliable files and they cannot execute program code, transmit viruses or be used to collect information about what you otherwise may use your computer for. We use these functional cookies to ensure that our website is functioning as intended. To do this, Touch/Trace uses Google Analytics: a web analysis service, offered by Google, Inc. Touch/Trace has signed a data processor agreement with Google. We do not use cookies to store or collect personal information; Touch/Trace has made the Google Analytics cookies anonymous (the last 3 digits of the IP address remain unknown). The information about your website usage generated by the cookies is exchanged with and stored on Google servers in the United States. (2) Touch/Trace uses MailChimp for newsletters and press releases. Touch/Trace has signed a data processor agreement with MailChimp. Between Touch/Trace and MailChimp, data exchange takes place as soon as you have signed up for the newsletters and/or press releases. Here you can read more about MailChimp's privacy policy. (3) Our email server and website host, YourHosting, is located in and manages its data on servers in the Netherlands. (4) Our website runs on the CMS system Wordpress. This company is based in and manages its data in the United States. • We are totally committed to protecting the privacy of our website visitors and followers. Touch/Trace does not sell, share or transfer your personal information to any outside parties other than the third party processors mentioned above. For the sole purpose of operating our business, suppliers or third party processors may process your information, but only to the extent that is needed to assist Touch/Trace. • Our website may contain links to other websites of interest or social media. However, once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over the other website. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information you provide when you visit those sites. We advise you to look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question. • You are free to decline the use of cookies. Most web browsers permit you to delete or block cookies and to warn you and ask for your consent before cookies are stored. You can find help in your browser on how to set your browser to handle and possibly block cookies. To specifically refuse the data collection of Google Analytics, you can download the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on for your current browser. Click here (https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout?hl=en) for this.

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