Techniques of Existence

Interview with Rick Dolphijn, by Michelle Kasprzak. From the ebook Speculative Realities (2012).

This interview was published in the Speculative Realities ebook (2012)

Michelle Kasprzak (MK): First I’d like to con­sid­er the ques­tion it­self that I’m ask­ing through the ex­hi­bi­tion: in which pos­si­ble ways does OOO/SR in­ter­sect with art and aes­thet­ics? I’m think­ing in the first in­stance of Ian Bo­gost’s dis­cus­sion of the priv­ilege of writ­ing and his no­tion of ‘car­pen­try’ – ‘mak­ing things that ex­plain how ‘things’ make their world’ (Bo­gost 2012: 93) – in Alien Phe­nomenol­ogy, and a con­cept al­ready in­tro­duced by Gra­ham Har­man in 2005, as a pos­si­ble jump­ing-​off point.

Rick Dol­phi­jn (RD): Re­gard­ing the re­la­tion be­tween spec­ula­tive think­ing and the arts I feel very close to the work of Bri­an Mas­su­mi whose ideas on this re­la­tion might seem to come close to Bo­gost’s, but in the end prac­tice a very dif­fer­ent pol­itics in which the arts are giv­en a much more promi­nent role. Ac­cord­ing to Mas­su­mi, art shows us the tech­niques of ex­is­tence, or the tech­niques of re­la­tion, which is pret­ty much the same thing. Let me ex­plain his ideas by means of an ex­am­ple, con­tem­po­rary dance (which is al­ways a nice in­ter­min­gling of sub­ject, ob­ject and change), and how Mas­su­mi con­sid­ers dance in his last book. He quotes a per­son­al con­ver­sa­tion with chore­og­ra­pher William Forsythe who stat­ed, ‘a body is that which folds’ (Mas­su­mi 2011: 140). Forsythe’s par­tic­ular con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion (in dance) of the body of­fered Mas­su­mi a start­ing point to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween con­tem­po­rary and mod­ern dance. Ward­ing off any em­pha­sis on rep­re­sen­ta­tion and on the use of metaphors (both of which, in my view, hap­pen in the def­ini­tion of Bo­gost), Forsythe’s art of­fers Mas­su­mi a way to get rid of the idea that the dancer us­es its body as a means to ex­press an in­ner feel­ing. This no­tion of in­ner feel­ing is so promi­nent in con­cep­tions of mod­ern dance (Mas­su­mi gives the ex­am­ple of Martha Gra­ham’s sym­bol­ic use of ges­ture). Con­tem­po­rary dance, in con­trast, ex­press­es pure move­ment, Mas­su­mi states. Thus, where­as in mod­ern dance the body dances (bod­ily move­ments cre­ate the dance), the dancer in con­tem­po­rary dance comes to be in the dance (move­ments cre­ate a danc­ing body). An epic ex­am­ple of the lat­ter would be Pina Bausch’s Café Müller where the chairs in the café did not sur­round the dancer cre­at­ing the mise-​en-​scene in front of which the dancer danced: the chairs are in­volved in the dance no less than the dancer. The chairs, the bod­ies of the dancers and ac­tu­al­ly ev­ery­thing else some­what com­plic­it, make up for the raw ma­te­ri­al from which the dance is ab­stract­ed.

This is im­por­tant (keep­ing in mind Mas­su­mi’s def­ini­tion of art as that which shows us the tech­niques of ex­is­tence): Forsythe’s def­ini­tion shows us that con­tem­po­rary dance over­comes the du­alisms that gave form to moder­ni­ty/mod­ern dance. On the one hand, it has no in­ter­est any­more in the op­po­si­tion be­tween the dancer and the world (which it was sup­posed to re-​present or dance-​to). Con­tem­po­rary dance does not con­sid­er the body ‘al­ready in ex­is­tence,’ filled with po­ten­tial­ities to be re­al­ized when­ev­er the sit­ua­tion (the dance) asks it to. On the con­trary, the body is ac­tu­al­ized in the dance, which means that it is on­ly through the act of fold­ing (the dance) that it (the ‘body’, the fold) re­al­izes it­self. On the oth­er hand, this means that the fold­ing ac­tu­al­iz­ing a bod­ily whole is not con­se­quen­tial to (Aris­totelian) mem­ory or an­oth­er agen­cy from which the body is or­ga­nized in ad­vance. Rather, the body (in­clud­ing the mind) hap­pens in the fold, which is to say that it is on­ly be­cause of the fold­ing that its uni­ty ap­pears.

MK: In Hal Fos­ter’s key text, The Re­turn of the Re­al (1996), and his chap­ter on the artist as ethno­gra­pher, he de­scribed how ‘the old artist en­vy among an­thro­pol­ogists has turned the oth­er way: a new ethno­gra­pher en­vy con­sumes many artists and crit­ics. If an­thro­pol­ogists want­ed to ex­ploit the tex­tu­al mod­el in cul­tur­al in­ter­pre­ta­tion, these artists and crit­ics as­pire to field­work in which the­ory and prac­tice seem to be rec­on­ciled’ (Fos­ter 1996: 181). The pro­cess of mak­ing, in this case, mak­ing art, is ob­vi­ous­ly very tied up in con­tem­po­rary no­tions of what artists do and how they do it – so as it be­comes ac­cept­able to con­duct art as re­search. Is there or will there be a sim­ilar drive to con­duct phi­los­ophy in a dif­fer­ent way, to present it in non-​aca­demi­cised forms, non-​tex­tu­al forms?

RD: The pro­cess­es of mak­ing art are cru­cial, as I ex­plained above. But al­so when you do phi­los­ophy, the pro­cess­es are the on­ly thing that mat­ters. Phi­los­ophy is an equal­ly cre­ative pro­cess com­pared to mak­ing art, yet a dif­fer­ent one. For where­as art is all about cre­at­ing sen­sa­tions, about blocks of sen­sa­tions to fol­low Deleuze (and Guat­tari) more pre­cise­ly, phi­los­ophy is all about cre­at­ing con­cepts. Philoso­phers tend to cre­ate con­cepts through lan­guage, by break­ing it open. In that, they act some­what sim­ilar to po­ets, yet po­ets are not in­ter­est­ed in cre­at­ing con­cepts. They aim at some­thing en­tire­ly dif­fer­ent (very par­tic­ular blocks of sen­sa­tion) which is not of our con­cern here. Phi­los­ophy has al­ways had a very dif­fi­cult re­la­tion to academia, which is in many ways its mon­strous child. Es­pe­cial­ly in our days, to do phi­los­ophy is in­creas­ing­ly rare with­in academia. There are ex­cep­tions of course and I think that Rot­ter­dam should be very proud of its phi­los­ophy fac­ul­ty. On av­er­age, how­ev­er, phi­los­ophy does not hap­pen too much with­in phi­los­ophy fac­ul­ties. OOO, spec­ula­tive re­al­ism and al­so new ma­te­ri­al­ism are very strong new de­vel­op­ments in phi­los­ophy yet they don’t or hard­ly hap­pen at phi­los­ophy fac­ul­ties.

But let us re­turn to the is­sue of lan­guage. There is no rule that says that philoso­phers should con­cep­tu­al­ize by means of lan­guage. And I be­lieve that there are many artists that, in do­ing their artis­tic work, prac­tice some sort of phi­los­ophy (cre­ate some sort of con­cept). If we lim­it our­selves to the work of Deleuze – whose def­ini­tions we are now fol­low­ing – we can­not but agree with him that there is much phi­los­ophy go­ing on in the paint­ings of Fran­cis Ba­con (he con­cep­tu­al­izes ‘the fig­ure’ in that sense), in the nov­els of Kaf­ka (who con­cep­tu­al­izes ‘the state’), in the movies of Go­dard (who con­cep­tu­al­izes ‘time’). Deleuze (a philoso­pher), when read­ing these three bright minds, treats their work no dif­fer­ent from how he would treat more ac­cept­ed meta­physi­cians, though this does not mean, of course, that the works them­selves, are not works of art any­more. They are prod­ucts of art, but there is phi­los­ophy go­ing on in them.

To­day we see an in­creas­ing num­ber of cre­ative peo­ple, some­times fol­low­ing the ideas of Deleuze, pro­duc­ing work that is more and more both a work of art as well as a work of phi­los­ophy. The best ex­am­ple in this is prob­ably Reza Ne­garestani (2008), by all means a cen­tral fig­ure with­in con­tem­po­rary think­ing. His nov­el/philo­soph­ical trea­tise en­ti­tled Cy­clono­pe­dia: com­plic­ity with anony­mous ma­te­ri­als is about a fic­tive ar­chae­ol­ogist Dr. Hamid Parsani. It con­structs a phi­los­ophy of oil and per­haps it is al­so at the same time a po­lit­ical man­ifesto that pro­claims the lib­er­ation of the Mid­dle East. For those in­ter­est­ed, this book is al­so about An­cient Per­sian mys­ti­cism (the Cult of the Druj) and Love­craft’s Cthul­hu. Giv­en Ne­garestani’s cur­rent in­ter­est in math­emat­ics I’d say that the long await­ed se­quel (the Mor­ti­logu­ist) will al­so aim to write the ex­act sci­ences.

No­ta Bene, I’m not say­ing that what Ne­garestani does is nec­es­sar­ily ‘new’ to our times. In a way Al­bert Ca­mus, much more so than his con­tem­po­rary Jean-​Paul Sartre, per­formed some­thing sim­ilar with The Plague, and there are many more mo­ments in his­to­ry (no­tably in the his­to­ries that find their ful­crum out­side of the West) where re­search and art as you call it, hap­pen to­geth­er (in the same voice).

MK: In your re­cent book with Iris van der Tu­in, you write: ‘new ma­te­ri­al­ism al­lows for the study of the two di­men­sions in their en­tan­gle­ment: the ex­pe­ri­ence of a piece of art is made up of mat­ter and mean­ing. The ma­te­ri­al di­men­sion cre­ates and gives form to the dis­cur­sive, and vice ver­sa’ (Dol­phi­jn and van der Tu­in 2012: 91). Think­ing of the ex­pe­ri­ence of a piece of art, rather than the mak­ing of it for a mo­ment, what do you think about how au­di­ences read ex­hi­bi­tions as op­posed to texts? In the case of this ex­hi­bi­tion, OOO/SR was a point of de­par­ture, but it can eas­ily be read as an ex­hi­bi­tion about na­ture, giv­en the leg­ible forms con­tained with­in (moun­tains, tongues, fin­gers, gar­dens, clouds). Is it in­evitable that we de­fault to na­ture when at­tempt­ing to get be­yond the hu­man?

RD: That de­pends en­tire­ly up­on the def­ini­tion of na­ture that you use. Be­ing a Spinozist, I’d say that na­ture is not a set of Laws that we came up with (as in the Laws of Na­ture) that you seem to pre­sume with your last re­mark, but rather sig­nals the end­less changes in which we ‘hap­pen’ to­geth­er with ev­ery­thing else. Our ‘hap­pen­ing’ or our ac­tu­al­iza­tion works ac­cord­ing to res cog­itans (thought) and res ex­ten­sa (ex­ten­sion), which are the two di­men­sions we (Iris and me) talk about in the quote above. In­ter­est­ing­ly enough, na­ture, Spinoza al­ready tells us, is not lim­it­ed to these two ‘mo­di’; we are. And it is about time that we re­al­ize this. Ac­tu­al­ly, I be­lieve that a ‘whol­ly oth­er’ na­ture, or a def­ini­tion of na­ture that goes way be­yond how we or­di­nar­ily (in­clud­ing so many green ac­tivists) de­fine it to­day, is cru­cial for to­day’s ma­te­ri­al­ist think­ing. When Quentin Meil­las­soux, for in­stance, re­jects the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­plain­ing or even pre­dict­ing na­ture, not­ing (with Hume) that na­ture is rad­ical­ly con­tin­gent and that na­ture’s ‘meta­phys­ical foun­da­tions’ as they can on­ly come in­to ex­is­tence through con­scious­ness and lan­guage, smart­ly cov­er up that na­ture is a con­cept that has hard­ly been recon­cep­tu­al­ized since the reign of du­al­ism, of Kant. Con­se­quent­ly (and in line with Kant’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al­ism), na­ture has been ex­clud­ed from thought. For Meil­las­soux as for many oth­ers then, the con­cept of na­ture, as it sur­faces in pub­lic de­bates as well as in academia, on­ly serves as a ve­hi­cle for an ide­ol­ogy of ressen­ti­ment that is filled with morals invit­ing us mere­ly to ‘con­serve what ex­ists’ (‘it’ then be­ing the false and re­duc­tion­ist idea we have con­struct­ed from na­ture). For these kinds of rea­sons, Tim­othy Mor­ton even sug­gests to write an ecol­ogy that gets rid of the con­cept of na­ture al­to­geth­er, claim­ing that it is too soft to tar­get these days, it is too the­olog­ical. Mor­ton then writes an ecol­ogy with­out na­ture. In re­sponse to Mor­ton, Slavoj Žižek went even fur­ther and searched for an ecol­ogy against na­ture; against the idea of a sta­ble, un­changable, frag­ile equi­lib­ri­um that is per­ma­nent­ly be­ing harmed by cul­ture, by us-​un­able-​to-​know.

Now let me re­turn to the first part of your ques­tion in which you stress the as­pect of ex­pe­ri­ence. What comes to my mind im­me­di­ate­ly is that be­cause we are in the mak­ing, and this mak­ing takes place ex­per­imen­tal­ly or in ex­pe­ri­ence, I wouldn’t make a dis­tinc­tion be­tween the mak­ing of an art­work and the ex­pe­ri­ence of it. In oth­er words, both the art­work and the self come to be in the ex­per­iment. Lets take an ex­am­ple this time from the first of the arts (as Deleuze and Guat­tari call it), ar­chi­tec­ture. Re­cent­ly, Lars Spuy­broek wrote a beau­ti­ful book about the ecol­ogy of de­sign which in­ter­est­ing­ly echoes my pre­vi­ous point con­cern­ing the monist def­ini­tion of na­ture I ad­here to (though Spuy­broek him­self, for some rea­son, has prob­lems with ‘monism’). Es­pe­cial­ly his read­ing of the Goth­ic de­serves our at­ten­tion. We see art-​in-​the-​mak­ing/art-​in-​ex­pe­ri­ence when his study shows us that Goth­ic (so-​called) ‘or­na­men­ta­tion’ hap­pens-​in-​mat­ter. The Goth­ic is nev­er ide­al­ist (like the neo-​goth­ic or mod­ernist move­ment), which is to say that the de­sign al­ways hap­pens in ex­pe­ri­ence, in mov­ing with ‘the forms at work’ (which in­cludes ‘us’). Its two pri­ma­ry forces in ar­chi­tec­tural form, tes­sel­la­tion (from two to one di­men­sion) and rib­bon­ing (from one to two di­men­sions), hap­pen with the very par­tic­ular spa­tial­ity in which the de­sign and the event oc­cur.

The res­onances steer mat­ter in­to J curves and S curves, in­to arch­es and or­na­ments. That is why the Goth­ic, un­like ide­al­ist ar­chi­tec­tures, hap­pens all around us, trav­els in many dif­fer­ent un­fore­seen di­rec­tions and can re­al­ize it­self any­time, any place. To map vi­tal Goth­ic en­er­gy is to re­alise the om­nipres­ence of the curved gable as John Ruskin al­ready put it in the 19th cen­tu­ry. To study the Goth­ic is, there­fore, not about analysing in­di­vid­ual dwellings, but about map­ping the res­onance of dis­parates, as Spuy­broek claims: ‘It is not on­ly a change­ful­ness of columns, vaults, or trac­eries in them­selves, but al­so one in which columns trans­form in­to vaults in­to trac­eries’ (2011, 25).

For Spuy­broek, the Goth­ic played a cru­cial role in our his­to­ry (giv­ing form to it in many ways). It nev­er ceas­es to haunt the Ro­man, Carte­sian or Bauhau­sian lines that still or­ga­nize ur­ban life. The Goth­ic has al­ways been at work at the mar­gins of our built en­vi­ron­ment; and es­pe­cial­ly to­day, in the age of dig­ital de­sign, the Goth­ic proves to be more vi­tal than ev­er be­fore. Spuy­broek’s own de­signs are, of course, a won­der­ful ex­am­ple of how the Goth­ic is so im­bri­cat­ed with ex­per­imen­ta­tion in con­tem­po­rary dig­ital de­sign (which makes him ac­tu­al­ly speak of ‘the dig­ital na­ture of the Goth­ic’). Think, for in­stance, of his Wa­ter Pavil­ion at Neelt­je Jans in which the ceil­ings trans­form in­to the floor, in­to the door, in­to the or­na­ment, while one walks through it.

MK: Martha Buskirk in The Con­tin­gent Ob­ject of Con­tem­po­rary Art says that ‘the idea of the touch, tra­di­tion­al­ly fo­cused on a spe­cif­ic re­gion of the body in the search for ev­idence of the artist’s hand, has been frac­tured and dis­placed in­to the mul­ti­tude of ways artists use their bod­ies to act up­on ma­te­ri­als and al­so turn the pro­cess of rep­re­sen­ta­tion back up­on them­selves to record traces of their phys­ical pres­ence’ (Buskirk 2005: 256). Does this no­tion gen­er­al­ly sup­port the idea of new ma­te­ri­al­ism (and to an ex­tent, OOO/SR) as­sert­ing a fun­da­men­tal link be­tween the dis­cur­sive and the ma­te­ri­al in art?

RD: I wouldn’t know how to talk of ‘the idea’ of new ma­te­ri­al­ism. In the book we were map­ping a new ma­te­ri­al­ism, and I con­tin­ue to do that in my ar­ti­cles. I search for a monism that deals in par­tic­ular with mat­ter re­ceiv­ing form, with ques­tions of plas­tic­ity as Cather­ine Mal­abou talks of it. But you are right that the man­ner­ism (Deleuze talks a lot about this) or per­haps even gen­er­al, the em­pha­sis on feel­ing in­stead of on ra­tio as to­day even peo­ple in the cog­ni­tive sci­ences (think of An­to­nio Dama­sio) and in psy­cholin­guis­tics (think of my col­league at Utrecht Uni­ver­si­ty Jos van Berkum) are in search for this, lies at the heart of my in­ter­ests. Spuy­broek too, talks of this when he con­cep­tu­al­izes how beau­ty gives form to life by means of the word ‘sym­pa­thy’. His en­tire book can be read as a man­ifesto for this old and beau­ti­ful con­cept that stress­es the non-​cog­ni­tive in­tra-​ac­tion by dint of which the in­di­vid­ual ob­jects are. Sym­pa­thy, in short, ‘is what things feel when they shape each oth­er’ (2011, 9). Spuy­broek shows us how ‘sym­pa­thy’ – re­vi­tal­iz­ing the way this con­cept was not yet ‘hu­man­ized’ at the end of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry – gives form to us and to the world around us: sym­pa­thy might hap­pen be­tween us and a vase, be­tween a wasp and an or­chid, be­tween the oceans and the moon. They feel each oth­er… they give form to one an­oth­er in the re­la­tion, in the mak­ing.

All of the philoso­phers and thinkers that I have men­tioned here pre­fer to speak of feel­ing, of sym­pa­thy, of touch (think of Erin Man­ning) in­stead of con­scious­ness. All of them agree up­on the idea that the mind is a con­se­quence of the body (and has the body as its ob­ject) which does not mean that they are against meta­physics per se (al­though Meil­las­soux is), but rather that they would nev­er cut it loose from the physics, from the bod­ily move­ments and mod­ifi­ca­tions that cause it.

MK: From your po­si­tion as a philoso­pher, are there any oth­er points and is­sues with the in­ter­re­la­tion of OOO/SR and art and aes­thet­ics that you think are key to con­sid­er?

RD: Well… I think it is very im­por­tant to un­der­stand that OOO/SR/new ma­te­ri­al­ism are very strong forces that cut across phi­los­ophy, the arts as well as the sci­ences to­day for a good rea­son: the times we live de­mand this kind of think­ing. The var­ious crises that hit us to­day are dif­fer­ent from the ones that caused ’68 to hap­pen. Yet the call for a rad­ical eman­ci­pa­tion that was echo­ing all over the world for decades af­ter ’68 (in the­ory and in pol­itics) some­how comes back to us to­day. Our times too ask for an eman­ci­pa­tion that is re­mov­ing us from hi­er­ar­chies that in­volve race, class, gen­der and age but that al­so ask us to ques­tion our hu­man­ity as such, in oth­er words the an­thro­pocen­trism so cen­tral to our think­ing.

Even more so than af­ter ’68, the state of the earth draws us to re­think the du­alisms so strong­ly con­cep­tu­al­ized by Descartes and for­ti­fied by Kant, and they marked the way in which cul­ture drift­ed away from na­ture, how the mind was cut loose from the body, how man has alien­at­ed him­self from tech­nique. From the ear­ly 1960s it was Fou­cault who most elo­quent­ly not­ed the an­thro­pocen­trism cen­tral to all du­alisms. He named it sim­ply ‘man’ (re­fer­ring to Kant’s An­thro­pol­ogy) fore­see­ing the ‘end of man’ or the way this ‘re­cent in­ven­tion’ was dom­inat­ing (and blur­ring) our think­ing. He sug­gests that Kant’s fi­nal ques­tion, ‘Was ist der Men­sch?’, posed in his Log­ic and his Notes and Frag­ments sum­ma­rizes how the past two hun­dred years of mod­ern thought got locked up in his Sub­ject (the ‘I think’) con­clud­ing that ‘[The space of an­thro­pol­ogy] is en­tire­ly tak­en over by the pres­ence of a deaf, un­bound, and of­ten er­rant free­dom which op­er­ates in the do­main of orig­inary pas­siv­ity’ (Fou­cault 2008: 39). In his lat­er writ­ings, Fou­cault showed how this po­lit­ical ecol­ogy slow­ly but steadi­ly cre­at­ed ob­jects (pris­ons, schools, bar­racks, fac­to­ries) in or­der to in­stall the Sub­ject (the ob­ject of thought), to serve its ex­is­tence. Fou­cault in the end is not push­ing us to ‘ques­tion au­thor­ity’ but rather to ‘ques­tion re­al­ity’, as re­al­ity had been cre­at­ed and mold­ed ac­cord­ing to sys­tems of dif­fer­en­ti­ations that we named, or­dered and in­ter­nal­ized in a thor­ough­ly hu­man­ist way.

That was then. Fou­cault is still a very ur­gent thinker, don’t get me wrong here, but ‘dif­fer­ent­ly’; the class­es he gave at the end of his ca­reer (and that are now be­ing pub­lished) of­fer us this Fou­cault that has yet to be dis­cov­ered. At the start of the 21st cen­tu­ry, how­ev­er, we live in such a dif­fer­ent po­lit­ical are­na. We are con­front­ed with such dif­fer­ent threats, all of which asks us to think anew. The eco­log­ical crises of to­day, which by all means have a much more rad­ical ef­fect on how we will soon live com­pared to the eco­nom­ical cri­sis, make Quentin Meil­las­soux (2006) con­clude that the end of man has yet to hap­pen. Meil­las­soux claims that even post-​crit­ical the­ory (in some ways even in­clud­ing Fou­cault, is part of ‘cor­re­la­tion­al­ism’ (as he con­cep­tu­al­izes an­thro­pocen­trism) and that the time has come to get rid of the ‘Kan­tian hor­reur’ that still dom­inates us (which does not mean that he wants to get rid of Kant, rather he pro­pos­es to rad­ical­ize it from with­in). Meil­las­soux claims that post-​crit­ical the­ory still re­duces the ab­so­lute re­al­ity of things to their pos­si­ble ap­pear­ance in con­scious­ness and lan­guage: the ‘two me­dia of cor­re­la­tion’ that de­fine the unique and un­touch­able ‘man.’ Cor­re­la­tion­al­ism (ex­plic­it­ly and im­plic­it­ly) claims that on­ly in con­scious­ness things can hap­pen, on­ly by means of lan­guage they can be ex­pressed.

Even Meil­las­soux, who seemed to be a rig­or­ous, al­most scholas­tic, philoso­pher in his Après la Fini­tude and his pub­lished and un­pub­lished work on God and fideism, now turns to art as his last book in En­glish The Num­ber and the Siren: the De­ci­pher­ment of Mal­lar­mé’s Coup de Des. As the ti­tle al­ready tells us, the book is on Mal­lar­mé, ad­dressed in a very math­emat­ical sense… com­ing close to nu­merol­ogy even. Be­yond this, many con­tem­po­rary schol­ars that are in­volved with new ma­te­ri­al­ism feel an urge to study con­tem­po­rary art. Bioart, think of Na­tal­ie Jeremi­jenko, is of course very pop­ular for those in­ter­est­ed in re­think­ing na­ture, but ac­tu­al­ly all per­for­mance art and in­stal­la­tion art – art forms that are all about mak­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing/ex­per­iment­ing mat­ter – are more and more flow­ing in­to thought, while at the same time new ma­te­ri­al­ist thought flows in­to these art­forms, in­to the very way they re­veal to us the tech­niques of ex­is­tence: new life (and death) un­fore­seen.


Works Cit­ed

Ian Bo­gost, Alien Phe­nomenol­ogy, Or What It’s Like to Be a Thing, Min­neapo­lis: Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2012.

Martha Buskirk, The Con­tin­gent Ob­ject of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Cam­bridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

Rick Dol­phi­jn, and Iris van der Tu­in, New Ma­te­ri­al­ism: In­ter­views and Car­togra­phies, Open Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2012; http://open­hu­man­itiespress.org/new-​ma­te­ri­al­ism.html

Hal Fos­ter, The Re­turn of the Re­al: Art and The­ory at the End of the Cen­tu­ry, Cam­bridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996.

Bri­an Mas­su­mi, Sem­blance and Event: Ac­tivist Phi­los­ophy and the Oc­cur­rent Arts, Cam­bridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.

Quentin Meil­las­soux, Af­ter Fini­tude: An Es­say On The Ne­ces­si­ty Of Con­tin­gen­cy, trans. Ray Brassier, Lon­don: Con­tin­uum, 2008.

Reza Ne­garestani, Cy­clono­pe­dia: Com­plic­ity with Anony­mous Ma­te­ri­als, Mel­bourne: re.press, 2008.

Lars Spuy­broek, The Sym­pa­thy of Things: Ruskin and the Ecol­ogy of De­sign, Rot­ter­dam: V2_ Pub­lish­ing/NAi Pub­lish­ers, 2011.



Rick Dol­phi­jn is a writ­er and a philoso­pher. He is an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Fac­ul­ty of Hu­man­ities, and se­nior fel­low of the Cen­tre for the Hu­man­ities, both at Utrecht Uni­ver­si­ty, the Nether­lands. He in­ter­est­ed in what he calls ‘new ma­te­ri­al­ism’ a fresh wind in phi­los­ophy close­ly linked to pro­cess thought and per­haps in some ways al­so to OOO and spec­ula­tive re­al­ism. In his re­cent­ly pub­lished book ‘New Ma­te­ri­al­ism: In­ter­views and Car­togra­phies’, coau­thored with dr. Iris van der Tu­in, the ‘new tra­di­tion’ called new ma­te­ri­al­ism is sit­uat­ed in phi­los­ophy, in the sci­ences and in the arts. He is fin­ish­ing a book which is more ex­per­imen­tal and which deals with the ur­gen­cy of this new form of think­ing, en­ti­tled (for now) ‘Mat­ter of Life: earth cul­ture health’.

Michelle Kasprzak is a cu­ra­tor at V2_ In­sti­tute for the Un­sta­ble Me­dia.

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