We need a manifesto for the re-assembling of the urban fabric – and the social, natural, and collective. Ditch the disciplined & professional language for now. Leave it. Come here instead; be here on this short journey through my mind and yours. There is no there.
In May 2017, veteran sound artist George Chua, known previously for his recordings of abstract lowercase computer music and live performances of electronic music improvisation, launched his bandcamp site with a single track, “独孤九剑 Nine Sword Techniques of Dugu”. Clocking in at over ten minutes, the track twists, turns and somersaults over a slowly mutating dub rhythm.
Traversing data streams of both in/organic machines led to nowhere, partly due to this insatiable desire to imagine for society a future of, sadly, useless cynicism. It started with an argument against so-called Asian futurism. A term that interestingly either downplays or negates the diversity of the various southern parts of Asia. So, i thought, where is futurism (or cynicism) in the Malay vocabulary, but save me the derisive notion of adopting existing term(s) and concept(s). fear. fearing. blind spots. All too self-conscious.
These shuttered horizons of direct witnessing are irreproducible. Many of these scenes (a cladded sky falling in to a closing eye) remain untransitted except in a distant pixel proxy. How do we exercise agency for a present in a future, or for a future in a present, foreclosed by indeterminacy, and for which 'stable' alternatives discipline bodies into unsustainable contortions, filled with little breadth for inchoate variations of life? How do we separate ourselves from the codes of neoliberal capitalist realities matrixed with teflon-ed DNA, an intricate fire-wall of signs resonating, amplifying into stratospheric formations, forming weather systems, climate, creating ecologies, habitats, the preconditions for life? The particular colour of the sky, the deepness of the dew?
The synthetic age operates at a synthetic speed and humans are always 2late. The loss of human’s hegemonic position also translates to the ending of modernism’s quest for an unadulterated, but ultimately anthropocentric, objectivity. There is no restive 'outside' to ponder anymore, all are inside, corrupted and accelerated to irrationality. The contemporary post-truth condition is not a short aberration in the grand historical narrative of modernism, it is symptomatic of the hyper-connected speedy state of the Anthropocene, a time of xeno-subjectivities that exists on the dialectical left to modernism’s right.
This is the time of the assassins, Rimbaud’s archetypal rhapsody of the anti-Oedipal revolt materialized as a planetary civilization, the collapse of bodily, phenomenological time in the high-frequency traffic of futures and debt, the universalization of precarity, panic and risk, the consummate commodification of life, where every body is tasked with treating itself as an enterprise, a vine heavy with the fruits of time, a savvy strategist alive to the exploits of chance. This is the vengeance of the vanguards and their exhortation to ‘make it new’, the reckless pursuit of invention and danger, ruthless contempt for the kitsch of the passe. The surrealist dream of a new beauty gives way to the corporate imperative to invent tantalizing new tastes, new appetites for new markets.