John W Fail


BEYOND is a beautiful word, inviting itself to be read in an infinitely-expanding amount of ways. Modernism challenged us to become active in our readings of literature, art, etc; the self became the site of production of meaning, or rather values, and the role of the Artist took its first stumble towards irrelevance. As this accelerated (not strictly, in my opinion, through postmodernist theory, but also significantly because of the psychedelic age), the ‘starting point’ became a dominant, unofficial, and yet frequently spoken expression of artistic production. While commercial pressure shapes ideas towards definitive outcomes (in terms of products, commodities, etc.), and the thin conspiracy of contemporary art offers and endless selection of disorganised notes presented as ‘artistic research’ (aka starting points), it’s the space between which feels underdeveloped - the space beyond, to tie this together nicely.

Can we move beyond a starting point (which may be chosen in some arbitrary way) and actually inhabit the space beyond? Can one challenge the idea of the self, not in being some identity of an ‘artist’ but as a fluid, plural scope of possibilities that responds to the current political-economic realities?

On a personal note, I have found myself in a state of paralysis as a musician for the past few years, because of the concept of abstract sound conjuring images and meaning. After repeatedly failing to justify what a sound I have recorded ‘means’, what lies beyond the waveform, etc., I have essentially abandoned the practice, which was once central to my self-identity. It’s probably been good to shed that identity, but I would like to make music again.

Forensic Flâneur

I've been working for a few years in experimental, open-form trans-disciplinary projects. The deconstruction of forensics as pitched in the MigAA workshop at least superficially parallels some of the activities I've led, built around collecting random objects and creating/inventing narratives around them, using them as starting points for performance (or non-performance) and other seemingly arbitrary injections of meaning.

The political angle intended in this laboratory challenges me to justify these actions in light of not just the contemporary political/social mileu but in reference to my own changing beliefs. I have been alienated, frustrated and otherwise distant from so-called 'art' activities for the past 1.5-2 years, stemming primarily from my own economic precariousness (ie: I constantly need to WORK to make money) and maybe a bit from a general reactionary backlash against the excessive post-modern existence I strove so hard to create for myself (and succeeded, at least somewhat). But now that austerity is apparently over, with Varoufakis and the troika having to eat a bag of souvlaki-flavoured dicks, perhaps it's time again to embrace these passions. 'Forensice Flâneur' offers potentially the chance to split the difference - to reconcile these approaches into a true non-methodology of revolt.

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