e-flux journal issue 37 is out now with contributions by: Lawrence Liang, Metahaven, Amelia Groom, Nato Thompson, Claire Tancons, and Anton Vidokle and Brian Kuan Wood.
Lawrence Liang—Shadow Libraries
If the utopian ideal of the library was to bring together everything that we know of the world, then the length of its bookshelves was coterminous with the breadth of the world. But like its predecessors in Alexandria and Babel the project is destined to be incomplete, haunted by what it necessarily leaves out and misses.
Metahaven—Captives of the Cloud: Part I
The cloud, as a planetary-scale infrastructure, was first made possible by an incremental rise in computing power, server space, and trans-continental fiber-optic connectivity. It is a by-product and parallel iteration of the global (information) economy, enabling a digital (social) marketplace on a worldwide scale. Many of the cloud’s most powerful companies no longer use the shared internet, but build their own dark fiber highways for convenience, resilience, and speed. In the cloud’s architecture of power, the early internet is eclipsed.
Amelia Groom—There’s Nothing to See Here: Erasing the Monochrome
Whiteness can be obliteration that facilitates; a ground cleared for a new set of relations. To erase an image is always to make another image, but to make any image is in the first place already an act of erasure.
Nato Thompson—The Last Pictures: Interview with Trevor Paglen
The Last Pictures is a paradoxical project. Its theme is paradox and the materials it uses are paradoxical. It is a montage of images whose materiality is such that it will probably last until the sun expands and engulfs Earth in fire and plasma five billion years from now. At the same time, those images are essentially meaningless, not only in the future, but in the present.
Claire Tancons—Carnival to Commons: Pussy Riot, Punk Protest, and the Exercise of
The punk prayer, in its call for the removal of President Putin from office in the very cathedral where Patriarch Kirill officiates, is an updating and a doubling of the decrowning of the carnival king ritual, which is, according to Bakhtin, one of the dual aspects of the primary carnivalesque act of mock crowning/decrowning. Pussy Riot killed two kings with one song.
Anton Vidokle and Brian Kuan Wood—Breaking the Contract
The systemic enclosure of contemporary art is much larger than a consensus around exhibition codes, curatorial sensibility, and relevant artists, because the very function of cultural spaces themselves has been superseded or redeployed by a political superstructure which over the past decade has merged increasingly with the sensibilities of actual, concrete political structures that have discovered in contemporary art and culture a general a means of exhibiting liberal, enlightened, globally-conscious moral values. The artistic field is happy to serve in this diplomatic capacity, because expanding its rule allows it to bury its own ontological crisis.