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VINYL IV: As If By Proxy
Took place: April 8th, 2005   [ Photos ]

Works by Lida Abdul, Dexter Dalwood, Tom Ellis, Alex Hamilton, Ben Judd, Hilary Koob-Sassen, Katrin Lock, Wolfe Lenkiewicz, Goshka Macuga, Otto Müehl, Sadie Murdoch, Peter Lewis & Makiko Nagaya, Owen Oppenheimer, Brendan Quick, Paula Roush, Rachel Reupke, Martin Sexton, Adrien Sina, Mark Aerial Waller, Richard Wolfson.

Press Release
VINYL IV: As If By Proxy

Introduced by Douglas Park

Video and film works and other objects curated by Peter Lewis, Goshka Macuga and Wolfe Lenkiewicz to be screened at ®edux amid the furnishings of a 'home' , in the context of a house party to be held on April 8th 2005 commencing at 9.00pm till late.

At issue could be an old, universal, yet timely question. What explains the fact that (for example) a clone of me is not an instance of me, but an instance of human nature? This question, culled from the theologian-philosopher Duns Scotus, c1265-1308, concerned the property of an individual. Scotus proposed the 'irrational' idea of an immaculate conception. A mediaeval kind of by proxy G.M. human. Maybe not so far fetched, then. John Frankenheimer's 1966 sci-fi film 'Seconds' had similarily posed a question of the doctoring of the individual's neglect to his 'Existenz' (see Karl Jaspers; also David Cronenberg's 1999 film of that title). Frankenheimer anticipated flesh and blood re-modelling as the pragmatic realisation of human freedom by technological means, as a performance of the will to alienation. In the most generalised sense, Frankenheimer tests, from this point, the category of 'human nature'.

A later work, 'The Boys from Brazil' (1978, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, screenplay by Ira Levin) articulated a latent polemic to be found in mimesis.
Schnaffer tested the dangers of making hard facts out of apocalyptic narratives, registered in the story of the Nazi Rebirth, by imagining the medical cloning of 100 embryonic potential Adolf Hitlers. Here we were presented with a re-take on Jean Paul Sartre's short story, 'Childhood of a Leader'. [1] Philosophy ceases to exist at the point where we identify with the young, cloned A.H, as the boy, Bobby, who has just killed the Nazi geneticist, Dr. Josef Mengele in revenge for his own father's murder at the close of the film, as he photographs the admirable corpse. (He may just become an artist this time round, as his hobby is photography). Is Bobby's delight in technology (the magic of seeing the image of the corpse emerge in his photographic developing tray) 'enlightened' false consciousness, if he himself is a supreme product and total proof of the domination, and self-domination, encrypted in the genetic Gift of (Mengele's) innovation technology?

We are reminded in this by Andreas Huyssen, in his foreword to Peter Sloterdijk's 'Critique of Cynical Reason' [2] that: "domination through instrumental or cynical reason can never be total, and that the masochism of refusal or melancholy about the irrevocable loss of happiness (that was the double heritage of Critical Theory), has today lost its offensive potential and in fact re-enforces the enlightened false consciousness it should help to dismantle." [3] Sloterdijk speaks of life as having no name, no self, and he exploits what he 'names' as without name, the self-conscious Nobody, who attaches names and identities only through its social birth, as remaining the living source of freedom. Unlike Theodor Adorno's 'Critical Theory', where identity is based on self-denial, in a Brechtian move he praises the discovery of 'nobodiness' in a moment of danger as a welcome expansion of subjectivity.
The alienated heroes of both films could be imagined to think and inscrutably believe in themselves: "I am finally freed from the ambiguity of myself by technological means."

At the call, the dead multitudes of the 20th Century loom up in allure, as the horizon of truth and fiction finally collapses. What appears through the screen is no longer the world, its equivocation of nearness and unfamiliarity, now incapacitated, but its irradiance, as if it were a kind of single, individual self-identical 'body', ready-made, cut-up for make-believe.

"I'm one of you. You're one of me?" [4]


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(2) Freud in his later writings argued that the death drive, the bodily instinct to return to the state of quiescence that preceded our birth, explains why we are allured by and drawn to repeat painful, traumatic or destructive events. We uncover, and in horror simultaneously conceal again, the built-in logic of the ending of messy human pluralities. I find myself humming along with the melodic William Burroughs, when asked of his opinion of the American flag: "Dip it in heroin, and I'll suck it."

This is not resentment, quite the opposite. To quote Dave Beech from his recent feature in Art Monthly, 'Art's Debunker's', the question that he (via E.Pfont class="small_red">. Thompson) raises is: 'We shall not ever return to a pre-capitalist human nature, yet a reminder of its alternative needs, expectations and codes may renew sense of our nature's range of possibilities. Could it even prepare us for a time when both capitalist and state communist needs and expectations may decompose, and human nature may be made over in a new form?" [5]

A number of questions operate here in these films and videos shown 'at home' at ®edux in the house of the curators, as a task to shape down one's automatic, utopian, affective responses, where the instantiation of the Individual is something too utopian and beyond all conceptualising. Nearness, the human facility, would have been ostensibly the better tool for the common need to be 'at home' in the world, if it had not already all but faded away. Too late for Adorno, not for us.

" What is this nearness that surrounds us...?" [6]


1. Jean Paul Sartre, The Wall, and Other Stories, 1948, New Directions.

2. Andreas Huyssen, Foreword, xviii The Return of Diogenes as Postmodern Intellectual, in Peter Sloterdijk, 'Critique of Cynical Reason', 1983, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main.

3. It is the individual split within the cynical phenomenon itself, which, Sloterdijk suggests, pits the cynical reason of domination and self-domination against the Kynic (a term taken from the tradition of Greek philosophy found in Diogenes) revolt of self-assertion and self-realization. "It is precisely the moment of a disillusioned enlightenment in cynicism itself that ...might make it susceptible to the temptation of cynical self-assertion... directed primarily at those who still suffer, however subliminally, from enlightened false consciousness." (from the Foreword to Sloterdijk, op cit.) Sloterdijk mobilises the kynical potential of the Diogenes tradition against a prevailing cynicism that had successfully combined enlightenment with resignation and apathy.

4. Dialogue from the film 'Scanners', 1981, directed by David Cronenberg.

5. Art Monthly, issue 283.

6. Hans Georg Gadamer 'On the Contribution of Poetry to the Search for Truth', in Gadamer, op cit, p.115.





Leeds Metropolitan University