conceptual writing

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.

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.

An affective response

On canon, Kenneth Goldsmith, and reading

Photo by Gina DeCagna.

I pitched this piece before Kenneth Goldsmith’s March 2015 performance at Brown University, and I wrote the interlinking reflections that follow the first section right after Goldsmith’s performance, so the progression of my thinking within this reflection is contorted and strange, especially now that I’m writing this preface months later.

Preface 

'I'M A REAL ARTIST'

I’M A REAL ARTIST
I’M A REAL MAMMAL

I’M A REAL SON

I’M A REAL AMERICAN

I’M A REAL HOMOSEXUAL

I’M A REAL BROTHER
I’M A REAL HOMINID

I’M A REAL CREATOR
I’M A REAL THIRTY-YEAR-OLD
I’M A REAL FRENCH
I’M A REAL UNCLE
I’M A REAL COOK
I’M A REAL MASTURBATOR
I’M A REAL DESCENDANT

I’M A REAL PRACTITIONER
I’M A REAL READER

Selections from 'The Beginning'

A way to begin is finding a way to begin without. Writing with brown outs and without internet on this island is to begin without access to the etymology of the word begin. On this island you learn to live off scraps washed up from where. The word begin is made of scraps washed up on fishermen’s shore. The words are plastic post apocalyptic bits: a pink child’s wallet, soda bottle wrappers, Shoe Mart shopping bags.

A way to begin is finding a way to begin without. Writing with brown
outs and without internet on this island is to begin without access to
the etymology of the word begin. On this island you learn to live off
scraps washed up from where. The word begin is made of scraps
washed up on fishermen’s shore. The words are plastic post
apocalyptic bits: a pink child’s wallet, soda bottle wrappers, Shoe
Mart shopping bags. The scrap collector fisherman was bent over
picking through whatever could support his life and house. Things

Manifest

Sophie Calle, “Exquisite Pain #71.”

List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the Commissioner of Immigration at Port of Arrival
Required by the regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, under Act of Congress approved March 3, 1893, to be delivered to the Commissioner of Immigration by the Commanding Officer of any vessel having such passengers on board upon arrival at a port in the United States[1]

List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the Commissioner of Immigration at Port of Arrival
Required by the regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, under Act of Congress approved March 3, 1893, to be delivered to the Commissioner of Immigration by the Commanding Officer of any vessel having such passengers on board upon arrival at a port in the United States[1]

1. No. on list
49 x 49 (7 x 7 = 49)

Little-Richards

There is a morning when it rains in the corner of everybody’s bedroom.
Jack Spicer, excerpt from Oliver Charming’s Diary (1953)

Imagine Brown

I went to Brown in March as an “artist in residence” for Interrupt3, a three-day conference on the intersection of art and text and digital things. I was anxious when I arrived because in the days before leaving people had asked me repeatedly what I would make once I got up there. I had no idea.

As soon as I arrived in Providence, I began seeing signs with the words “Imagine Brown” everywhere. They were on lampposts and banners and posters all over Brown’s (quite white — qhite?) campus.

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