Welcome to Monoskop, a wiki for collaborative studies of the arts, media and humanities.
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“Derek Beaulieu’s a, A Novel is an erasure-based translative response to Andy Warhol’s eponymous novel. Beaulieu carefully erases all of the text on each page of the original work, leaving only the punctuation marks, typists’ insertions and onomatopoeic words. The resultant text is a novelistic ballet mécanique, a visual orchestration of the traffic signals and street noise of 1960’s New York City. This visually powerful half score/half novel highlights the musicality of non-narrative sounds embedded within conversation.
Published in December 1968, Andy Warhol’s a, A Novel consists solely of the transcribed conversations of Factory denizen Ondine (Robert Olivo). Ondine’s amphetamine-addled conversations were captured on audiotape as he haunted the Factory, hailed cabs to late-night parties and traded gossip with Warhol and his coterie. The tapes were roughly transcribed by a small group of high school students. Rife with typographic errors, censored sections, and a chorus of voices, the 451 pages of transcription became, unedited, “a new kind of pop artefact”. These pages emphasize transcription over narration, hazard over composition.
In his book, Derek Beaulieu offers a radical displacement of Andy Warhol’s work. He erases the novel’s speaking characters – members of the mid 1960’s New York avant-garde – and preserves only the musicality of their conversations. Beaulieu perfectly provides a tangible example of Theodor Adorno’s theory elaborated in his essay ”Punctuation Marks”, in which he argues that punctuation marks are the “traffic signals” of literature and that there is “no element in which language resembles music more than in the punctuation marks”.
This visual poetry is accompanied by an essay by Gilda Williams, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do. Men, Women, and Punctuation in Warhol’s Novel a”. Her deep knowledge of both Andy Warhol’s work and the history of contemporary art explores the complicated history of the original novel and highlights the urgent and precise spirit of Derek Beaulieu’s work—the work of an artist who situates Uncreative Writing at the core of contemporary literature and artistic labour.”
Publisher Jean Boîte Éditions, Paris, 2017
PDF (24 MB)
“Cosmism emerged in Russia before the October Revolution and developed through the 1920s and 1930s; like Marxism and the European avant-garde, two other movements that shared this intellectual moment, Russian Cosmism rejected the contemplative for the transformative, aiming to create not merely new art or philosophy but a new world. Cosmism went the furthest in its visions of transformation, calling for the end of death, the resuscitation of the dead, and free movement in cosmic space. This volume collects crucial texts, many available in English for the first time, by the radical biopolitical utopianists of Russian Cosmism.
Cosmism was developed by the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov in the late nineteenth century; he believed that humans had an ethical obligation not only to care for the sick but to cure death using science and technology; outer space was the territory of both immortal life and infinite resources. After the revolution, a new generation pursued Fedorov’s vision. Cosmist ideas inspired visual artists, poets, filmmakers, theater directors, novelists (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky read Fedorov’s writings), architects, and composers, and influenced Soviet politics and technology. In the 1930s, Stalin quashed Cosmism, jailing or executing many members of the movement. Today, when the philosophical imagination has again become entangled with scientific and technological imagination, the works of the Russian Cosmists seem newly relevant.”
With texts by Alexander Bogdanov, Alexander Chizhevsky, Nikolai Fedorov, Boris Groys, Valerian Muravyev, Alexander Svyatogor, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Anton Vidokle, and Brian Kuan Wood.
Publisher e-flux, New York, and MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2018
ISBN 9780262037433, 0262037432
“A revealing look at the irrevocable change in art during the 1960s and its relationship to the modern culture of fact.
This book offers a new understanding of the transformation of photography and the visual arts around 1968. Author Joshua Shannon reveals an oddly stringent realism in the period, tracing artists’ rejection of essential truths in favor of surface appearances. Dubbing this tendency factualism, Shannon illuminates not only the Cold War’s preoccupation with data but also the rise of a pervasive culture of fact.
Focusing on the United States and West Germany, where photodocumentary traditions intersected with 1960s politics, Shannon investigates a broad variety of art, ranging from conceptual photography and earthworks to photorealist painting and abstraction. He looks closely at art by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Robert Bechtle, Vija Celmins, Douglas Huebler, Gerhard Richter, and others. These artists explored fact’s role as a modern paradigm for talking, thinking, and knowing. Their art, Shannon concludes, helps to explain both the ambivalent anti-humanism of today’s avant-garde art and our own culture of fact.”
Publisher Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2017
ISBN 9780300187274, 0300187270
Review: Ina Blom (The Sixties, 2018).
“If art, science, and the humanities have shared one thing, it was their common engagement with constructions and representations of the human. Under the pressure of new contemporary concerns, however, we are experiencing a “posthuman condition”; the combination of new developments–such as the neoliberal economics of global capitalism, migration, technological advances, environmental destruction on a mass scale, the perpetual war on terror and extensive security systems–with a troublesome reiteration of old, unresolved problems that mean the concept of the human as we had previously known it has undergone dramatic transformations.
The Posthuman Glossary> is a volume providing an outline of the critical terms of posthumanity in present-day artistic and intellectual work. It builds on the broad thematic topics of Anthropocene/Capitalocene, eco-sophies, digital activism, algorithmic cultures and security and the inhuman. It outlines potential artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries of working through the complex reality of the ‘posthuman condition’, and creates an understanding of the altered meanings of art vis-à-vis critical present-day developments. It bridges missing links across disciplines, terminologies, constituencies and critical communities. This original work will unlock the terms of the posthuman for students and researchers alike.”
Publisher Bloomsbury Academic, 2018
ISBN 1350030252, 9781350030251
“Stuff matters. In much of history, the real protagonists were the precious metals, burning hydrocarbons, superior aerogels, collapsing concrete, rare minerals, and toxic liquids. This goes for all chemical compounds, whether raw, processed, or newly designed, geogenic, biogenic, or anthropogenic. It is the inventory and also the political, ecologic, and economic criticality of the material world within which humans will always have to situate themselves. Inert matter constitutes the raw materials of life, while organic matter changes the chemical composition of other spheres, such as the atmosphere or the lithosphere. This is what Vladimir Vernadsky and others have taught us. Yet this eons-old circulation of matter has been perturbed, on a grand scale, by the intervention of a new sphere: the technosphere.
Perhaps the largest achievement in modern science is the studying of the properties of materials. In doing so, humans have discovered tools that have reshaped the world to the extent that the Earth has intractably reformulated itself in marked contrast from its prehuman trajectories. The whole technosphere rests on the mobilization and organization of (energetic) matter: its extraction, cracking, transformation, manipulation, and finally, dispersion. As a result, the entire material world has been turned into a resource to be manipulated, consumed, or reordered. It is the industrialization of this relationship between humankind and all matter that has contributed decisively to creating the technosphere.
This dossier discusses the criticality of the material world as the spatiotemporal backbone of the technosphere and, eventually, ourselves. It presents stories of stuff, from mining to discarding, by dwelling on the pure substances themselves as well as their endless variety, but also by bringing the logistics and transversal interrelations between them into focus. It asks about the relationship of artifacts and craft, the blurring lines between naturalness and artificiality, and even what defines the line between living and dead material.”
With contributions by Annapurna Mamidipudi, Sophia Roosth, Nicole Koltick, Sander van der Leeuw & Daniel Niles, Elaine Gan, and Esther Leslie.
Publisher Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, March 2018