Culture as Organization in Early Soviet Thought: Bogdanov, Eisenstein, and the Proletkult (2016)

27 October 2016, dusan

“This anthology brings together a group of film researchers, historians, political scientists and systems scientists to discuss historical and contemporary tangential points between the sciences and the arts in Russia during the first decades of the twentieth century. All chapters provide new insights into linkages between the arts, philosophy and other disciplines during this period. Tangential points between early Russian systems thinking and approaches to montage that were being developed within the film community are examined in detail. The contributing authors focus on two thinkers: the filmmaker, Sergei M. Eisenstein and the systems theorist, Aleksandr A. Bogdanov.”

The book is published in an interactive format inspired by Eisenstein’s idea of the “Spherical Book”, organising chapters in a thematic modular way, allowing for multiple reading perspectives.

Edited by Pia Tikka, with John Biggart, Vesa Oittinen, Giulia Rispoli, and Maja Soboleva
Publisher Aalto University School of Arts Design and Architecture, Helsinki, 2016
Tangential Points series
ISBN 9789526000763


PDFs on demand

McKenzie Wark: Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene (2015)

14 May 2016, dusan

“In Molecular Red, McKenzie Wark creates philosophical tools for the Anthropocene, our new planetary epoch, in which human and natural forces are so entwined that the future of one determines that of the other.

Wark explores the implications of Anthropocene through the story of two empires, the Soviet and then the American. The fall of the former prefigures that of the latter. From the ruins of these mighty histories, Wark salvages ideas to help us picture what kind of worlds collective labor might yet build. From the Russian revolution, Wark unearths the work of Alexander Bogdanov—Lenin’s rival—as well as the great Proletkult writer and engineer Andrey Platonov.

The Soviet experiment emerges from the past as an allegory for the new organizational challenges of our time. From deep within the Californian military-entertainment complex, Wark retrieves Donna Haraway‘s cyborg critique and science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s Martian utopia as powerful resources for rethinking and remaking the world that climate change has wrought. Molecular Red proposes an alternative realism, where hope is found in what remains and endures.”

Publisher Verso, London and New York, March 2015
ISBN 1781688273, 9781781688274
xxiv+280 pages

Reviews: Slavoj Žižek (Verso 2015, Wark’s response), John Beck (Radical Philosophy 2015), Mark Rappolt (ArtReview 2015), Maria Chehonadskih (Mute 2015, Wark’s response), Two Grenadiers (2015), Pieter Vermeulen & Tom Chadwick (nY 2016), Jim Harper (LSE Review of Books 2016).
Commentary: Joe Guinan (Renewal 2015), Jernej Kaluža (Radio Student 2019, SL).

Video lecture (Concordia U, Apr 2015)


See also Molecular Red Reader compiled by Wark (PDF).

Edward Braun: Meyerhold: A Revolution in Theatre (1979/1995)

2 December 2014, dusan

“Legendary Russian theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940) led the revolt against naturalism and flouted Stalinist socialist realism with his avant-garde productions incorporating mime, constructivist sets, musical scores and formalized scenery. His scenic invention and use of cinematic techniques culminated in his 1926 staging of Gogol’s The Government Inspector as well as reinterpretations of classics such as Pushkin’s Queen of Spades. Braun, a drama professor in England, sees Meyerhold as a supreme director-poet for whom the theater was designed to shatter the audience’s complacency. Decked out with 145 photographs of set reproductions, costumes and posters, Braun’s vibrant study restores Meyerhold’s radical legacy for contemporary theater. This revision of a work first published in 1979 draws on a wealth of newly discovered writings by Meyerhold, as well as KGB files released since 1989 that tell the full story of the director’s arrest, torture and execution after being falsely labeled a foreign agent by Stalin.” (Source)

Originally published in 1979
Second, revised and expanded, edition
Publisher Methuen Drama, 1995
ISBN 0413727300
347 pages

Reviews: Sharon Marie Carnicke (Modern Drama, 1996), Christine Kiebuzinska (Theatre Journal, 1996), Phil Shannon (Green Left Weekly, 1999).

PDF (33 MB)