Monday, 12 December 2011

Harman for artists

Thanks to this is from Rob Murphy ( ) who was responding, in part, to a recent discussion on systems and conspiracy; he raises some interesting discussion issues.

I see harman as an ‘Absurdist’ whether he intends it or not.

 The first clue to this is his self proclaimed ‘False Theory’ method of taking a theory, and running with it to its sharpest point to discover the possibility for that theory as well as its failing along the way. Which he undoubtedly uses and supplements with his use of words like ‘weird’. 
And the sharpest point for me in simple terms for SR is that objects inhabit a realm unknowable to us, but to which we can speculate. He seems to be doing a specific thing for me here.

 He is saying that he has come to some sort of temporal structured conclusion about another realm that’s non-human centric, which lies beyond our consciousness. That is fine.
And that we can speculate that this world of objects could inhabit its own metaphysical problems and so forth. This is saying to me that if something is irreducible, or has an unknowable inner kernel, it is therefore meaningless, in realist terms, in human philosophy. And may very well be useless for change or knowledge in an object’s philosophy. He seems to say, in an absurdist reading, that if we can’t know of something, and attempt to create a speculative world in which objects subsist, we won’t find knowledge there either because of the limitations of our knowledge of worldly the objects in the first place. And that is assuming that objects care about or have versions of metaphysics and existential concern and that we could adequately translate these things through our own philosophies, description and art.

 Harman is brilliant to me in very grounded, realist terms. He argues that there is a speculative world (and all that entails presumably) through his speculative realist ‘false theory’. This could be read that he is giving us the seeds of possibility that this speculative realm of objects may have their own search for meaning in a meaningless world and thus an object-absurdity. In this reading, he undermines relations, translation, concepts of conceivable realist occasionalism, the desein of the human and speculative objects all with a ‘shadowy’ absurdist tinge.

 The preamble to this being that we can’t find logic/meaning/metaphysical realism through our consciousness or logical reasoning, so the idea in the hope for objects to find meaning for us in our absence, or themselves is arguably absurdist metaphysics.

It is also why I would agree, he is not a pansychist, because he has an inherent absurdist view on metaphysics. (Although I don’t know why he refutes pansychism and doesn’t apply his false theory to that too, but maybe nobody would see him as a realist philosopher then and more of an L.Ron Hubbard type character).

The hope for my sculptures is that they give an account of the comedic horror and absurdity of attempts in art to metaphysically translate, understand or even use metaphysics as a form of investigative practice. The idea in SR of pursuing anything through anything else other than itself is futile and absurd, and this lies at the base of this. I am drawn to SR because I believe it is an intentional object of the human and object world that has been more self descriptive and transparent than any other object we know, and with that as a starting point, we can interrogate the reality of everything else. 

That is why sculpturally I intend to push things through other things / objects through objects, for example: new age metaphysics through catholicism in school gap years, basic understanding of the universe through death, metaphysics through objects by objects and so on. In the attempt to show visually the futility of our current standards of tool use and the retarding of change and newness, through self reflexivity in art, enable.
 Please forgive the fragmentary thoughts and english above, and the most definite affliction I have most definitely carried out on the terminology of philosophy, and more than likely than not, the horror I have done to Harman’s philosophy. But I am just trying to see how it’s relevant to the process of making in art and to me. You cant make an omelet and all that. I probably don’t even believe half the stuff I argue for most of the time.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Philosophy in the Present: Žižek and Badiou

Philosophy in the Present
A public seminar on the Žižek and Badiou debate

Fri 16th Dec. 2011. 11.30am to 1.00pm: The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin

Organized by MA Art in The Contemporary World ( ) in collaboration with The Hugh Lane Gallery.

This is the last in a series of special seminars, exploring themes arising from the exhibitions Civil Rights etc., DISTURBANCE and Tim Robinson: The
Decision. These seminars are free and open to the public, although places may be limited and should be booked in advance.

The discussion, lead by Francis Halsall/ Declan Long (NCAD) will use the following text as its starting point: Badiou & Žižek, Philosophy in the Present, (Polity Press, 2009).

For more information contact: Jessica O'Donnell: (  at The Hugh Lane or Declan Long ( and Francis Halsall ( at NCAD.