Talk at The New Centre

19 Feb. 2022

Talk and discussion for The New Centre’s class “What Now?: Contemporary Art & the Post-Pandemic Conditions“. 19 February, 2022 @20:00 CET. Lecture on “Localisation”.

The background for this idea of non-adaptive artifacts stems in large part, from Sylvia Wynter’s genealogical model of our present, where she has emphasized the unprecedented character of this historical moment – insofar as the planetary indexes an environment in common for the first time in human history. Sylvia Wynter’s theorisation through the ‘Sociogenic Principle,’ as an elaboration of Fanon’s Sociogeny, grapples with the establishment and evolution of social systems, as they instantiate idealized human concepts, that serve as a valence of orientation and a reference point through which to justify normative and epistemic ordering. In her model, the figure of ‘Man’ (via Man 1 and Man 2) – as an historically architected self-image, puts into motion a framework of reference endemic to particular historical paradigms that naturalize a ground of positive self-reference for thought itself (a linking of the Foucaudian episteme and Kuhnian scientific paradigm shifts). The Sociogenic principle names the feedback dynamic between social structures, the internalization and rehearsal of them, such that configurations of knowledge, and the choosing of relevant problems (to put it in Kuhnian terms), confirm the so-called veracity of positive self-reference proper to a given historical paradigm. On the epistemic register, this is what Katherine McKittrick aptly named as the problem of adaptive truths – truths that affirm a given configuration of a world, including its structures for evaluating knowledge and relevant problems as it concretely exists and the genres of humans who perform it.

Wynter asserts on the necessity of ‘outer-views’, to help catalyze the possibility of thinking from without given referential frameworks, in what I like to think of as a non-adaptive standpoint of intelligibility. The question here – also extended to art is, how one may go about constructing such outer views, that are not views from nowhere, they are not without a site, but are also not bound to the parochial conditions of the local present, world configuration.