We know that Jacques RanciA?re speaks about the relation between politics and aesthetics in terms of a€?the distribution of the sensible.a€? Tonight I want to speak about the distribution of the insensible. But I also want to register an implicit critical dimension of this argument, a critique of RanciA?re and of his presently immense influence, which I view as unwarranted. By way of a first approach to what I mean by a€?the distribution of the insensible,a€? leta€™s recall some basic passages from Volume One of Capital on the transformation of materials. Labor is, first of all, a process between man and nature, a process by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature. What distinguishes capitalism as a mode of production, however, is the peculiar manner in which the transformation of materials through the labor process is shadowed by the process of valorization.
We can thus view the process of production either from the perspective of the labor process or the valorization process. So, this brief summary of Marxist fundamentals is our first approach to the distribution of the insensible. In Intellectual and Manual Labor, Alfred Sohn-Rethel argues that the social abstraction of the value form and the exchange relation gives rise to our abstract forms of thought. The exchange abstraction excludes everything that makes up history, human and even natural history. In Sohn-Rethela€™s account, the exchange relation gives rise to a social genesis of the transcendental (the forms of intuition and the categories of the understanding). In the act of exchange, the natural and material physicality of the product is negated by the abstract value of the commodity, and this negation constitutes the a€?positive realitya€? of the social physicality of the exchange process. The history of modernity, which is to say the history of capitalism, is also the history of modern technology. And thena€”in the discourse network of 2000, spawned by the cybernetic systems, information theories, and encryption technologies of World War II, digital technology draws media differentiation back together through the synthetic resources of digital code, a universal medium traversing audio, video, and textual recording. However (fourth approach)a€”we should recognize that just as Kittlera€™s media theory offers a necessary supplement to Sohn-Rethela€™s account of the social genesis of conceptual abstraction, it is also necessary to submit Kittlera€™s own work to a Marxist inversion. What Marx calls a€?formal subsumptiona€? is the initial subsumption of labor under the value form, through wage labor and exploitation (the extraction of surplus value from surplus labor time).
This contradiction bears upon the history of technology, because it is by revolutionizing the means of production that capital attempts to overcome this contradiction.
The same process also generates a different problem: as automation increases, less labor power is required. Automation, which is at once the most advanced sector of modern industry and the epitome of its practice, confronts the world of the commodity with a contradiction that it must somehow resolve: the same technical infrastructure that is capable of abolishing labor must at the same time preserve labor as a commoditya€”and indeed, as the sole generator of commodities. We could rephrase this by saying that Fordism both requires and paves the way for post-Fordism. At the same time, however, we know that a commodity like an Apple computer is, in fact, produced by processes quite clearly identifiable as a€?labor.a€? Despite the fact that every effort is made to keep this fact out of sight and out of mind, we know it because we read about it on Apple computers.
Composed of aluminum, nickel, steel, glass, vinyl, and fluorescent, the production of Vanitas involves a virtuosic performance of mimetic exactitude.
In a dark room, the viewer looks at the object, sees into it, and sees nothing of herself (like a vampire in front of a mirror, Baier says) while the object reflects its own interior infinitely in all directions.
The first thing we might note about this piece is its complex engagement with relational aesthetics. Second, we can say that if Vanitas is a captivating work of art, much of what makes it so is money.
Baiera€™s piece instantiates the problem of the relation between materials and money, captured in the art object. Behind Vanitas, a glass reproduction of Baiera€™s eyeball at the center of a projected disc of light, gazing without seeing across the room at a mirrored box which does not reflect its image. Beside Vanitas, a fond de scA?nea€”a reflector used in the background of photo shootsa€”which Baier placed in a template with a circular hole and left in a window for nine months. Around the corner, a piece called Projet A‰toile (Noir), consisting of a graphite painting titled Monochrome (Black) and a sculptural replica of a meteorite recovered from Death Valley. These are photographic pieces and sculptural objects which Baier would have worked on at the computer in the center of Vanitas. At the crux of materials and moneya€”through the complex history that crux containsa€”the subject of Baiera€™s installation is the relation between memory, recording, mimesis. Baiera€™s problem is not only the remembrance of things past, but, more specifically, the reminiscence of that which has never been sensed, the distribution of the insensible, recalled. By way of a first approach to what I mean by a€?the distribution of the insensible,a€?A  leta€™s recall some basic passages from Volume One of Capital on the transformation of materials. Jan Bohuslav Sobota died on May 2nd of 2012 and this is my remembrance of this fine man who was a friend and mentor to me.
Each autumn, salmon return to the rivers of their birth a€“ there to spawn and once again trigger a renewal of the eternal passion play. Salmon that do eventually arrive at their destinations must once again compete a€“ this time for mates and to fight for access to the precious and very limited gravels.
The profligate expenditure of life and extravagant wealth of biology is there everywhere to behold, as Death dances lightly among the gathering throngs of fish, picking and choosing from among them; who from their number shall successfully spawn and who shall just be food for the gathering predators and scavengers. Spend a day in silence, walking among the spawning salmon, as they dig spawning redds, jockey for position and slash at competitors with those gaping, snaggletoothed, hooked jaws.
Jan Bohuslav Sobota has died, while half a world away; I was preparing these etchings of Spawned Salmon and dedicating them to Jan, the lover of fish. The book you hold in your hands has evolved from my simply giving these etchings a second life in book form, to my using them as a vehicle for honoring a friendship of three decades. In 1985, Jan and I had been corresponding for some months without ever meeting a€“ all quite distant and correct. A short bit of background on Jan Sobota to begin, but fear not; Ia€™ll soon be spinning anecdotes and thoughts on books as art a€“ celebrating Jana€™s life of course, telling a few stories out of school, but also straying into the personal and speculative in search of the meaning to be derived from the life and death of a friend. Jana€™s father was a serious bibliophile and collector of fine books, who nurtured that same love of books in his son a€“ an appreciation that steadily grew, until he was apprenticed to master bookbinder Karel A ilinger in PlzeA?. The pivotal event in Jana€™s early life as a book artist was the posthumous retrospective exhibition of fellow Pilsener, Josef VA?chal in 1969. Jan supported a family, sponsored workshops, exhibited widely, did conservation work on rare historic books, ran a gallery a€“ and on it went. What Jan did for contemporary bookbinding, was to act as a bridge between the traditionally trained masters of the past and innovators of the present.
America was a great place to be a book artist in the early 1980a€™s precisely because it was an active zone of hybridization and hotbed of creativity. An instructive contrast to the anything-goes US scene was the icy reception I got when I showed a wooden box containing loose sheets of poetry and etchings to a Prague publisher.
Neither Jan nor I had much interest in the book-like objects that often sneak into the museums as book arts a€“ the carved and glued together things that sorta, kinda have a bookish aspect to them a€“ rough-looking a€“ perhaps chain-sawed Oaken boards or granite slabs, slathered in tar and lashed together with jute; but lacking text. When Jana€™s books went beyond function, conservation or decoration, they were subtle statements about binding and the place of books, knowledge and art, as well as statements about the dignity inhering in the handcrafted - with a good dose humor. There are others who know their conservation and those, whose scientific contributions are far greater, but few of them are also artists at heart. It can sound so pedestrian, these eternal compromises between art and craft, yet what Jan represented was not at all common. There is an inflection point at which exceptional craft begins to make the transition to art and it is closely associated with surmounting the limitations inhering to the discipline.
Visiting with Jan in his workshop you quickly realized, that he did what a professional must, but ultimately, he just loved messing about with books.
A curiously protean hybrid of artist and craftsman, ancient and modern, one cannot think of Jan without seeing an unabashed Czech patriot in a foreign land. Early on in their stay in Cleveland, the Sobotas experienced the quintessential American disaster. Even after their medical debts were retired, money was still an issue for a family of immigrants with three kids a€“ two with special needs.
Later on, when they were living in Texas, the massacre at Waco opened Jana€™s eyes to yet another difficult side of his adopted home. In 1979, I apprenticed with Jindra Schmidt, an engraver of stamps and currency, living in Prague. Schmidt had engraved stamps for Bulgaria, Iraq, Ethiopia, Albania, Guinea, Vietnam and Libya. In 1992, Jindra Schmidt was honored for his contributions and depicted on the last stamp of a united Czechoslovakia, before it split into Czech and Slovak republics a€“ a fitting tribute.
Unlike most children of immigrants, my destiny remained connected to that of my parentsa€™ homeland. My vocation as artist clarified itself in Prague while learning the increasingly obsolete skills of steel engraving. My first book was indeed, modeled after VA?chal, even to the extent of its diabolical subject matter. Jan showed me a great deal in the following years about the tradition of books as the meeting place of art, craft and ideas a€“ where printmaking intergrades seamlessly with the worlds of language, typography and illustration. One can like these things just fine and admire them from an uncomprehending distance, or you can become engaged. The book you hold was to have been a simple reprint of the Spawned Salmon a€“ something fun for Jan to work his magic upon. Nice sentimental reminiscences, but there is still the matter of getting the work accomplished and out before the public, organizing exhibitions, printing catalogs and paying for transatlantic flights.
The Prague show was reconfigured and curated by Jana€?s longtime friend, Ilja A edo, for exhibition at the West Bohemian Museum in PlzeA?. Quite predictably, I like seeing the kind of work I do honored a€“ the wood engravings and etchings made to shine in the context of crisply printed type and an excellent binding. Ia€™ve heard printmakers lament that the surest way to devalue prints is to add excellent poetry, sensitive typography and a bang-up binding a€“ and then live to see the whole thing sell for half the price of just the unbound prints. Therea€™s nothing quite like seventeenth century Bohemia, the dead center of Europe, for particularly thorough violence a€“ with the Bubonic Plague stepping in afterwards as mop-up crew. The chapel at Sedlec was rebuilt after the major blood-letting of the thirty-years war as a memento mori a€“ reminder of death.
What can you say about the mounds of dead, the ruined lives, destroyed nations and misery multiplied by millions that isna€™t trite or self-evident?
But then I pan over to other fields a€“ not the kind where the grass is composting my fellow man, but to fields of endeavor where the ferment is of ideas recombining into ever more refined ways of thinking. I once lived at the Golem house in Prague a€“ at Meislova ulice, number 8, in the old Jewish ghetto. Horoscopes might seem a curious basis on which to select ministers and diplomats, but it is also more common than youa€™d think. Picture the scene before you: Ita€™s a late night in Prague, before the Marlboro man dominated every street corner, even before the neon of casinos and the vulgarity of Golden Arches assaulted the nightwalkersa€™ eyes at all hours a€“ back when darkness, oh yes, that beautiful comforting velvety, all-enveloping and blessed dark, broken only by the moon, stars and late night taxis, still ruled the streets after the sun went down. The Golem was a mythic being of Jewish folklore, created from clay and quickened by the Shem, a magical stone engraved with an ancient Hebraic inscription, inserted into Golema€™s forehead.
The maternal tongues of these small nations have miraculously survived all the invasions, floods, plagues and foreign occupiers to this day a€“ a gift preserved and delivered to them across the generations.
Minority languages, on the other hand, carry an emotional load that can scarcely be exaggerated. Ishi and his sister were the last of the Yahi tribe to survive the genocidal colonization of California. Those whose language and culture are not threatened can never know the burden under which the carriers of small minority languages labor a€“ nor how those in exile bring up their children to preserve that which is beyond their capacities to save.
Jan was all about preserving traditions and the kind of ancestral knowledge that today is mostly enshrined in books.
Today, the stories of our tribes are less and less passed on as oral tradition and most often read to us from the childrena€™s books wea€™ve learned to treasure a€“ illustrated by fine artists and produced with care for the highly discriminating purchasers of childrena€™s books a€“ for grandparents. A?epelA?k employed binders and typesetters to present complete suites of his work and in this too, he introduced me to a new world. Later in Prague I missed my flight back, due to the World Trade Center bombing and was delayed by a week. The difficult thing to bear in acknowledging my teachers, models, heroes, suppliers and inspirations, is that these masters of the crafts and industries surrounding and supporting the book arts are mostly deceased. The fruit we seek is not fast food, but laden with full-bodied flavors, attained by slow natural processes. All of us come from grandfathers who once were wheelwrights, cobblers or instrument makers; men with a profound love of wood and leather, who knew the working qualities of every kind of obscure tree growing in their countryside a€“ men who knew when to reach for elm or hickory a€“ as well as for goat, dog or even fish-skins. Jan spoke fondly of his grandmother, who baked bread every week of the year to feed an entire estate a€“ farm hands, livery people, gentry, trainers and hod-carriers alike.
Working consciously is the ultimate goal a€“ and that is the legacy youa€™ll find evidently contained within and upon the boards of every book bound by Jan Bohuslav Sobota. The etchings you see here first came to life as illustrations for the wedding anniversary announcements of MA­la and Jaroslav KynA?l.


Jan Bohuslav Sobota died on May 2nd of 2012 and this is my remembrance of this fine man who was a friend and mentor to me.A  He was an exceptional bookbinder, teacher and promoter of the book arts, but also an exile who successfully returned home after years abroad. And I want to argue that it is the specificity of this problem which allows us to think the relation between the history of capital and the history of mimesis.
I could summarize this critique as follows: if RanciA?re were more inclined to focus his attention upon the distribution of the insensible, perhaps he might think more perspicuously not only about the relation between politics and aesthetics, but also the relation between political economy and aesthetics. Marx analyzes the process of production from two perspectives: the labor process and the valorization process.
Moreover, we transform materials into tools, instruments of labor, with which we transform materials. The transformation of materials produces objects with use value, but it also produces commodities with exchange value. But insofar as it is specifically capitalist, what the process of production produces is value, and a particular kind of value: surplus value and its reintegration into the production process as capital. The entire empirical reality of facts, events and description by which one moment and locality of time and space is distinguished from another is wiped out. And this social genesis is at once material and abstract, since the exchange value of a commodity is borne by its use value, and since exchange (like the labor process) is a physical act which also requires abstraction from all physicality.
Hence the exchange process presents a physicality of its own, so to speak, endowed with the status of reality which is on a par with the material physicality of the commodities which it excludes.
This is what Sohn-Rethel, following Marx, calls a€?the real abstractiona€? of the value form as a social process of exchange. In a materialist inversion of the Kantian transcendental, media technologies constitute the a priori conditions of possibility for the sensible, such that the distribution of the sensible already operates within these conditions. From the industrial revolution to the production and networking of digital information technologies, the history of modern technology emerges from and responds to the demands and internal contradictions of capitalist accumulation. This early period of subsumption is merely a€?formala€? because the production process itself (the labor process which is subsumed) remains primarily pre-capitalist. New technologies of production, and new techniques of production (assembly lines, for example) make it possible to increase productivity, and thus increase the amount of surplus value that can be extracted in a certain period of time. If automation, or for that matter any mechanisms, even less radical ones, that can increase productivity, are to be prevented from reducing socially necessary labor-time to an unacceptably low level, new forms of employment have to be created.
Essentially, Society of the Spectacle is a book about the consequences of real subsumption, about the contradictions that it bears within its history and about the new regime of accumulation necessary to defer and compensate for the crises those contradictions contain. A corporation like Foxxcon, the largest manufacturer of electronic components in the world, is something like a distillation of the entire history of the contradiction between capital and labor, the great movements of the industrial revolution, Taylorism, Fordism, the off-shoring of manufacturing labor, and the simultaneity of deindustrialization and post-Fordist cognitive capitalism with the persistence of the most traditional forms of miserable factory work.
The main piece is the sculptural object we have been looking at, titled Vanitas, a reproduction of the artista€™s office. Every component of the artista€™s desk and of his tools is precisely rendered as either a three dimension drawing or a three dimensional scan.
It mimics one of the primary gestures of that movement or style, bringing the artista€™s studio and living space into the museum. Obviously it is expensive to reproduce onea€™s office in nickel-plated aluminum and to display it so dramatically.
The content of his piece is nothing other than that relation, a reflection upon that relation. Baiera€™s piece should be considered as part of an installation, not merely a sculptural object, insofar as it does, in fact, come into relation with its surroundings, surroundings composed of digitally produced images and objects. In front of Vanitas, a meticulously composed compound photograph of the stone wall beside the earliest cave paintings, titled Canvas. Not a reflection of the sun but an indexical image of its absorption, marked by the circular discoloration of the black tissue.
Having held this meteorite in the palm of my hand, three years ago, I can testify to the strangeness of encountering its inexistence, distributed between these two art of objects.
Instantiated as digital code, they were a€?ina€? that computer, stored in its memory banks, transformed on its screen. At and through the limits of modernity, of capital, of mimesis, of thought, of sensation, and within their outside, his work draws us into that distribution. There they encounter resident trout and bass a€“ even sunfish, chubs and dace, all keyed into the increasingly plentiful and highly nutritious bounty of salmon eggs.
Situated 90A km south-west of Prague at the confluence of four rivers, PlzeA? is first recorded in writings from the tenth century. That vision was about innovation and creativity within the context of an historical tradition.
This is what youa€™ll see in a Sobota binding a€“ exceptional attention paid to context and relationships, using materials and technical means that do indeed function and last. He knew his work was valuable and documented it fastidiously a€“ confident that it would be last. There was, however, nothing about his nationalism that demeaned anybody elsea€™s traditions or origins.
That smallish incident within the parade of American fringe politics elicited an insanely violent level of suppression. Masaryk a€“ and the cute little girl with a bouquet of flowers, is my mother Eva, at the age of three. Schmidta€™s income from the federal mint far exceeded anybody elsea€™s in the extended family and supported a network of cars, cottages and rent-controlled flats. Schmidt, as he preferred to be called, was a man of conservative demeanor who preferred polite and reserved forms of speech and address. While visiting their unassuming engraver and extending my tourist visa 30 days at a time, I was quietly becoming qualified for life as a counterfeiter a€“ a vocation within which, one is set for life, however it may eventually turn out.
Jan allowed several binders to have their way with it a€“ amo boxes for slipcases with shell casings for hinges and so forth.
This next incarnation of our exhibit in PlzeA? was all just a bit more prosaic and provincial. Is it the binding we consider and exhibit a€“ or is the binding there to conserve a text, which is ultimately the point? There are also binders to whom everything else is merely the text block, who care little if it is an offset trade edition or a book made by hand. The tales therein recorded reflected the accreted wisdom and wit of a people as they retold them across the highlands in modest log cottages after the harvest was in. The way of working belongs to the Sobota vision I addressed earlier a€“ the honor and soul to be found in conscientiously made handcrafts. I dona€™t feel that accomplished or ready to assume their mantle and yet with every generation that is what must happen. Gravels, with just the right flow of fresh water running up through stones of the right size are but a tiny portion of the riverbed.A  The salmon must struggle past cities and sewer pipes, farms and irrigation systems, dams and turbines, fishermen and waterfalls a€“ just to reach the streams of their birth. Crucially, I want to show how the relation between those two histories is mediated by another: the history of technology.
That is: focusing on the specific problem of the distribution of the insensible turns out to be the key to thinking about the relation between aesthetics and politics in a materialist way, in a manner properly responsive to the exigencies of Marxist historical materialism.
He sets in motion the natural forces which belong to his own body, his arms, legs, head and hands, in order to appropriate the materials of nature in a form adapted to his own needs. For example, according to Sohn-Rethel, the purely formal character of the Kantian forms of intuitiona€”space and timea€”can be understood as genetically related to the abstract formalism of the value form and the exchange relation.
Time and space assume thereby that character of absolute historical timelessness and universality which must mark the exchange abstraction as a whole and each of its features. Thus the negation of the natural and material physicality constitutes the positive reality of the abstract social physicality of the exchange processes from which the network of society is woven. This real abstraction constitutes a kind of a€?second nature,a€? and Sohn-Rethel argues that this second nature is a€?the arsenal from which intellectual labor through the eras of commodity exchange draws its conceptual resources.a€? We can situate this analysis more broadly at the level of the whole process of valorization, or the accumulation of capital through circulation. We need to supplement Sohn-Rethela€™s materialist critique of epistemology with a history of media technologies like that carried out by Friedrich Kittler. Thus, without further increasing the length of the working day, one can increase surplus value (this called a€?relative surplus valuea€?).
But Marx makes clear that the part of capital invested in constant capital does not undergo any alteration in the process of production, it does not increase (this is why it is called constant).
This means that less money is being paid out on the labor market for the consumption of commodities. A happy solution presents itself in the growth of the tertiary or service sector in response to the immense strain on the supply lines of the army responsible for distributing and hyping the commodities of the moment. And behind the passage I just read, we can also read a commentary on the history of technology.
The conditions of possible experience are themselves conditioned by the moving contradiction between capital and labor.
Indeed, bearing the conditions of its production in mind, one might view a device like an Apple computer as a distillation of the entire history of modernitya€”of the manner in which modernity acts upon external nature and changes it, and in this way simultaneously changes its own nature, from the printing press to the steam engine to the silicon chip. Each of these objects is then reproduced, at exact scale, by either machining in aluminum (in the case of objects that were drawn) or stereolithography (in the case of objects that were scanned). But in doing so it forecloses the primary content of that gesture, radically separating this space from that of the viewer, encasing it within a mise-en-abyme in which only images interact with one another.
A tour de force of concept, design, and execution, the piece is also nothing if not resourceful. As he did with the objects reproduced in Vanitas, Baier made a three dimensional scan of the meteorite and then reproduced ita€”at a much larger scalea€”through stereolithography. This widely beloved stamp was re-issued in 2000 and mother continues to receive philatelic fan mail to this day.
He died the day I was composing a colophon for the Spawned Salmon with words of praise for his lifea€™s work. The relation between the history of capital and the history of mimesis is mediated by the history of technics.
Through this movement he acts upon external nature and changes it, and in this way his simultaneously changes his own nature. It is independent because the exchange value of a commodity is entirely determined by the average socially necessary labor time required to produce it, not by the materials of which it is composed. We can view the process of production from two sides, but what it produces are commodities that are sold for money, which is reinvested in the production process and thereby becomes capital. He does not think the distribution of the insensible, the movement of valorization, and thus he misses entirely the dimension of political economy in his thinking of politics.
The social process of valorization is the very medium in which we think, and to which thinking is applied through intellectual labor (such as management).
And indeed, Kittlera€™s media-theoretical analysis of discourse networks should also be understood as a materialist critique of Kantian idealism. It communicates with itself, through its own data channels, and consciousness is the epiphenomenon of communication. Thus, during the period of formal subsumption, the extraction of surplus value is primarily correlated to the length of the working day and the cost of labor power.
This is what automation and capitalist management techniquesa€”Taylorism and Fordisma€”are for. So labor has to be reabsorbed into the labor market to support consumption and prevent overproduction. The development of industrial automation both necessitates and creates the conditions of possibility for the invention of new media apparatuses, especially digital information technologies and networks. The history of the sensible, the transformations undergone in the media-technological conditions of sensation and experience, is also the history of the insensiblea€”the history of the process of valorization as it develops in relation to contradictions in the labor process.
This process includes every electric or electronic plug and cord connecting Baiera€™s computer, his monitors, his speakers, and his scanner. Although it draws the space within which the artist works and thinks into the space of the museum, the artist is pointedly absent. It patently shows off the artista€™s mastery of that form of technA“ so crucial to contemporary art practice: the capacity to get funding. At his desk, thinking, communicating, representing, the artist enters into the circuits of capital, the movement of valorizationa€”as do we all, one way or another. He then melted the meteorite down and used the graphite of which it was composed to paint the surface of Monochrome (Black). Share or message your boyfriend with the best quotes to make him remember you all the time. The engraving was masterfully done by Schmidta€™s long-dead colleague, Bohumil Heinz (1894-1940). The state security apparatus was surely aware of my presence, but if they kept tabs on me, I never knew. And it is through this history, this mediation, that art takes up techniques which throw us back outside the history of capital, outside the history of mimesisa€”indeed, outside the history of the human, the history of thought, and the history of sensationa€”within and through the technical means to which the linked histories of capital, mimesis, and technics give rise. Labor time is that abstract, universal equivalent which will find its answer in the universal abstraction of the money form, and value is not a material thing but a social relation.


Production produces both surplus value and capital, and capital produces expanded cycles of accumulation. One consequence of this failure is that he has no rigorous means of accounting for the relation of his history of art and artistic regimes to the history of capital, to structural changes of the contradiction between capital and labor. Insofar as intellectual labor is subsumed by capital, as is manual labor, the forms of thought themselves enter into a relation of dialectical genesis with the value form. For Kittler, it is not transcendental categories but media technologies which determine the conditions of any possible experience.
The capitalist wants to extend the working day as much as possible, and to reduce wages as much as possible.
What Marx calls a€?real subsumptiona€? is this revolutionizing of the production process such that it becomes properly capitalist.
Thus, as relatively more capital is invested in constant capital and relatively less capital is invested in variable capital, relatively less capital is available for conversion into surplus value.
The process of real subsumption thus also requires the growth of the tertiary service sector, which produces both a new labor market and new fields of commodity production and consumption. These not only enable the growth of the tertiary service sector and its forms of communicative labor and consumption, they also themselves produce new markets of goods and services. Shortly after he coined the term a€?immaterial labor,a€? Maurizio Lazzarato renounced it, for the good reason that the term was impossible to reconcile with a materialist position. It includes the crumpled pieces of paper in his trash can and a book lying open beside his keyboard.
The piece is something like an anti-humanist negation of relational aesthetics: perfectly finished, enclosed, complete, pristine, it subtracts the participation of the viewer precisely through the viewera€™s gaze, which is drawn into and lost within the reflexive auto-mimesis of the object. The distribution of the insensible: the movement of capital, the structural transformation of the contradiction between capital and labor, the circuitous courses of the process of valorizationa€”all this is how a digital information system ends up inside a mirrored box in the company of fluorescent lighting and minimalist furnishings, installed on the distressed concrete floors of an art gallery. The matter of the object thus remains, and so does its form, but the object itself has disappeared into an uncanny splitting of their formerly integral relation. Canvas shows us the primordial matter of mimesis: the substrate of inaugural images carved in stone, with stone.
Everything is just so wonderful and everybody so creative, but suspending judgment long enough to actually look at some artwork and then giving it a chance isna€™t so bankrupt, is it? Human body parts are again flying and the Baron is at his best defeating Turks and evading friendly fire from buffoonish generals. Farmers would occasionally find their possessions and take them as souvenirs, unaware that the last Indians still lived in their midst. Damn the cost; ita€™s who we are and the last material vestiges of soulful encounters with our elders a€“ onea€™s whose stories are slipping inexorably away, thinned by each passing year and generation.
Their kids were grown and they were by then slipping into that last, reflective phase of life a€“ done competing.
As Marx tells us in Chapter 8 of Volume One, a€?the means of production on one hand, labor-power on the other, are merely the different forms of existence which the value of the original capital assumed when it lost its monetary form and was transformed into the various factors of the production process.a€? Both the means of production and labor power are different elements of capital in its own valorization process.
In my opinion, this is a problem substantial enough to render his history of aesthetics more or less irrelevant.
For Sohn-Rethel, the Kantian transcendental subject is the representative modern figure of this dialectic (though its status as such is occluded by the idealism of transcendental philosophy). The rate of surplus value extraction depends upon these factors (this is called a€?absolute surplus valuea€?). It is not only that labor is subsumed under the value form, but that the very constitution of labor itself changes. Capital needs to invest more in technology in order to increase productivity and sustain the valorization process.
The new regime of accumulation that accompanies this structural transformation is what Guy Debord theorizes as the Spectacle. And more importantly, they are the technological ground for the massive growth of speculative markets we call a€?financialization,a€? which is predicated (in its contemporary form) upon the exchange of digital information.
He should have referred instead to a€?insensible labor.a€? Information and cognition are not immaterial, but they are insensible.
Each of these reproduced objects is then plated in mirrored nickel before being rearranged, in in a reproduction of their configuration, within a parallelepiped encased on all six sides in one-way mirrored glass and illuminated by overhead fluorescent light.
His studio is something like the Platonic form of so-called a€?immaterial labora€?a€”designer furniture and designer devices, neatly arrayed with the precision of an architectural firm blessed with a particularly fastidious custodial staff.
This movement, this transformation, this process is what we are looking at, though we cannot see it.
Since childhood, martial arts had held his fascination, leading him to study various styles under several teachers. These scraps turned out to be a deck of medieval playing cards - the second oldest such cards known.
A book is so much more than the sum of its parts a€“ and yet each of us tends to have our own bailiwick in which we shine and to which we look first.
But we can also recognize, as Catherine Malabou argues in What Should We Do With Our Brain?, that there is a structural homology between post-Fordist management discourse emphasizing non-hierarchical networks, self-organization, flexibility, and innovation, and contemporary neurological theory, which views the brain as a decentralized network of neuronal assemblies and emphasizes neurological plasticity as the ground of cognitive flexibility and adaptation. In the discourse network of 1800, the book is the site of an encounter between reading and writing, wherein the romantic imagination produces a projection of the soul into what Novalis calls a€?a real, visible world,a€? written into and read off of printed signifiers, emerging from the text as synaesthetic phantasmagoria in which all the senses are drawn together by the hallucinatory experience of Literature. Importantly, then, real subsumption requires and depends upon technological innovation: the capitalist process of production both needs and produces new machines because these increase productivity within a given period of time and thus compensate for limits on the length of the working day.
But by doing so, it also decreases the amount of capital which can be converted into surplus value.
The tech boom and its implosion are the logical and necessary outcome of real subsumption, pushing beyond its limits into the society of the Spectacle. And the forms of affective labor which precisely are sensed are premised upon the indistinction of labor and leisure, the impossibility of distinguishing them under conditions of post-Fordist accumulation.
Star (Black) confronts us with an extra-terrestrial outside, encountered, vanished, recordeda€”at once absent and yet uncannily present as residue and reproduction.
But Hatsumi was looking for something special and found himself drawn to an ideal that continually eluded him no matter how many teachers he studied with. These plates have been inked and wiped by hand, employing methods that woulda€™ve been familiar to Rembrandt.
The concrete process of transforming materials through labor, aided by tools, is subsumed by the abstract process of valorization. In the discourse network of 1900, gramophone, film, and typewriter effect an analytic separation of this sensory synthesis, constituting distinct technologies of recording and transmission for sound, the moving image, and the written word. Thus, due to forces of competition and technological innovation driving increased productivity, the rate of surplus value extraction tends to decline.
It is labor itself that becomes insensible under these conditions, dispersed into networks linking neurons and screens and indistinguishable from the most intimate gestures of our affective lives.
These are images of the deep time of human and cosmological history, outside the limits of modernity, of capital and its enabling technologies of representation.
He wished to explore real martial arts - the art of war - ancestor of modern sport versions.A  He was told about an aging master of martial arts named Toshitsugu Takamatsu. They crashed with my wife Jana and me in Kalamazoo, while taking the a€?orientation coursea€?nearby.
I can confidently report back to my English reader, that Jan would only grow in stature for you, if you could have fully understood the subtlety of his thoughts in his own maternal tongue.
Such would be a historical materialist account of conceptual abstraction following from Sohn-Rethela€™s critical of idealist epistemology. What Kittler calls a€?media differentiationa€? carves up the Romantic imagination, sutured to the book, and parcels out its capacities among discrete technologies addressed to a segmented perceiver: an ear, an eye, a minda€”a modernist collage of the formerly integral subject. Thus, it is only possible to extend the working day so much, or to reduce wages to so little, because the reproduction of capital depends upon the reproduction of labor. What the installation asks us to think, however, is the manner in which it is these technologies of representation which record this outside, which draw our attention to it and make it manifest.
The scant details of Takamatsu's life sounded like an adventure novel as he had spent 12 years as a young man inside a chaotic China instructing martial arts, eventually becoming a personal bodyguard of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China. Perhaps right for those who shouldna€™t have sharp objects, for fear of hurting themselves. That show was purchased whole by Special Collections at Western Michigan University and constitutes the largest collection of Sobota bindings and the most complete archive of my work.
The precise transformations of materials it enablesa€”its retentional exactitudea€”precisely negate all transformation.
His prowess as a master of Budo, the martial way, led him to be known as a€?Moko no Tora,a€? or the a€?Mongolian Tiger.a€? At the height of his notoriety in China, he was said to have thousands of students. Few people would have cast a second glance at that glued-up mess of moldering old papers before pitching it, nor would they have recognized what they had in hand or known how to restore or sell it. Simply put, the way we thinka€”the form of thinkinga€”is dialectically intertwined with the structure and the historical movement of capitalist accumulation. Like Malicka€™s The Tree of Life, Baiera€™s meteorite indexes a cosmological time and an inhuman history which never was sensed, which was prior to sensationa€”though, like Malicka€™s film, Baier makes this history manifest through the most sophisticated technological means of representation. The story enthralled Hatsumi, who immediately set out to journey the half-day train ride south to the ancient city of Kashihara, in Nara Prefecture, to meet this remarkable man. These folks were a profound blessing to a family facing some truly rough sailing a€“ a Godsend. Schmidt had worked was signed with warm dedications to him and thus worth real money to collectors. He wanted to see the printmaker in me come to full fruition and I wanted to be worthy of his attentions. The family has dwelled within sight of the seats of power, pushing copper plates through a press and outlived the Hapsburg Monarchy, First Republic, Nazis and Communists.
The intact packages were still there on their shelves, all duly graded, labeled and priced, awaiting an owner who was never to return.
The labor of the artist is the transformation of money, through materials, into its own image. Baiera€™s Canvas, a meticulous photographic recording of the bare stone wall beside the first recorded images, situates this indexical effort within the whole history of representationa€”again, carrying us outside the modern technics of mimetic exactitude which make the digital rendering of this stone wall possible in the first place.
Back home, their Czech neighbors would have envied them and accused them of theft or worse, but people here seemed to be pleased as punch to see them prosper a€“ genuinely happy for them. Those items too, kept trickling out the door, until there came a sad, sad day, when the golden eggs were all gone. But this is also to transform them into an art object: neither tool nor raw material, neither instrument nor that to which it is applied. Rather, a worked form, presented, apparently useless and withdrawn from exchangea€”though of course it has its uses and cannot help but find its way back to market. They bashfully admitted their foolishness and went back to making beautiful books a€“ and their American friends were so relieved to see them regain their sanity. You take time to grieve and then pick yourself up by your bootstraps (by God a€“ get a grip) and get on with it (Rome wasna€™t built in a day you know). StrejA?ek was still working, but it was all coming to an inevitable end, as he grew shaky of hand and hard of seeing. Enriched by my days of being nurtured by Prague, Matkou MA›st (Mother of Cities), I moved on to meet my destiny with art. Long-time students have come to realize that the ideals, skills, and philosophy of this once secret and enigmatic art are not learned simply for self-defence, but rather personal growth. The physical lessons of Taijutsu forge the heart, mind, and spirit into tools to live a sincere and just life.A  Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, whose training approach emphasizes the principles underlying techniques as the surest means to understanding the heart of Budo. He founded the Bujinkan Dojo in honour of his teacher, Toshitsugu Takamatsu, whose exploits are legendary.
Hatsumi, a former bone-setter, has penned over a dozen books, and is the former chairman of the Writers Guild of Japan. Hatsumi was awarded the International Culture Award, the highest honor given for cultural exchange, by a member of Japan's Imperial Household.
The scant details of Takamatsu's life sounded like an adventure novel as he had spent 12 years as a young man inside a chaotic China instructing martial arts, eventually becoming a personal bodyguard of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China. Hatsumi was awarded the International Culture Award, the highest honor given for cultural exchange, by a member of Japan's Imperial Household. Taijutsu is the common thread that links all these arts, which is essentially an ancient system of whole body positioning and movement where the core and major muscle groups are optimized and trained to work with the natural design of the human body.Modern sedentary lifestyles unfortunately leads many people to actually forget how to move naturally with rhythm and flow, and before too long the body actually cannot move naturally anymore because the range of muscle and joint movement shortens and it becomes a vicious cycle, which requires effort to break free from.



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