Ready-made shirts, ready-made readings

“The McDowell Garment Drafting Machine” (1888) cover detail. Smithsonian Archives Center, Washington, DC, Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Business Ephemera: Pattern Industry, box 1, folder 21.

In Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith’s introductory essays to Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, the authors trace the algorithmic-appropriative condition of Conceptual writing back through Conceptual art to its emergence in the work of Marcel Duchamp.[1] (The volume’s excerpts from Stéphane Mallarmé’s 1874 La Dernière Mode, or Denis Diderot’s eighteenth-century literary appropriation, seem to represent anachronistic exceptions to their rule.) For Dworkin and Goldsmith, Duchamp is the heroic initiator of

On settler conceptualism

Claire Fontaine, 'Untitled (I've stolen it),' 2014.

My initial engagement with and understanding of the expanded practices of Conceptual writing is situated within a particular geography — Denendeh, or the Northwest Territories of Canada — during the proposed Mackenzie Valley Gas Project hearings held throughout the territory. The purpose of the proposed pipeline was to pump natural gas from Arctic Ocean reserves south across the entire territory to Alberta, where it would fuel the production of tar sands oil.

Empathetics: A somatic approach

Frustrated by debates over Conceptualism v. “Other,” I’m hoping, in this small space, to swerve and focus on what is, to me, a more daunting divide in contemporary experimental writing: that between Empathic and Apathetic art. These are notes towards locating a gradation within US-based writing, art, and performance that points towards what’s at stake in literary practice.

A note on terrapoetics

Eugene Thacker's 'In the Dust of this Planet' (2011), Evelyn Reilly’s 'Apocalypso' (2012), and Juliana Spahr’s 'Well Then There Now' (2011).

There appears to be an anaesthetic edge to the conceptual, as the concept’s generality implies an inactuality that thwarts the presence presupposed by the here-and-now of aesthetic experience. Conversely, things that exist but cannot be encountered are nothing but pure concepts to us. As the concept of an ecosystem, for example, is not exemplified by anything you may encounter wandering through it, it escapes our aesthetic faculties entirely.

Appropriative resistance

Derailed MRT train. Photo by Rey Laguda, from an article by T. J. Dimacali, courtesy of GMA News.

I am writing this two days past Independence Day, a national holiday that witnessed anti-imperialist rallies organized by a broad multisectoral alliance that critically involves the Philippine Left to combat bureaucrat capitalism of which expansionalist efforts by China and the US are symptoms and operations.