Monday, 20 December 2010

Coming up for air. Drowning in Baudrillard.

Image above taken from the Matrix.

The problem with Baudrillard is that the proliferation of simulacra gives us nothing to grasp, no reality with which to forge weapons that can be used to fight back against the prevailing conditions of consumerism. However Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus find a way to think about levels of representation rather than simulations. Thus a double becoming looks towards the growth of potential. By combining ideas that are embedded within the representations that surround us, we can start to create anchor points. Then, Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas of rhizomatic connections can be envisioned as a sort of flexible underlying grid, each intellectual move taking up another position on the grid that had not previously been used. These then become the lever points for new fables and stories created from unforeseen amalgamations of potential. (This could be seen as a type of philosophical big bang). From these new positions of leverage you can then fight back against Capitalism’s simulacra and overturn simulation with representation. Deleuze and Guattari state that this resistance is a collective project and locally the rise of new cooperatives such as the Leeds Creative Time-bank could be the type of organization from within which these changes might happen. Eventually these working bodies of self-supporting groups of connected individuals may inject themselves into the body of Capitalism as antibodies designed to eliminate and protect us against false consciousness.
What Deleuze and Guattari offer is a theoretical standpoint capable of re-reading Baudrillard's hapless world of illusion as a type of metamorphosis that offers up a range of leverage points for change. Set against the cynicism of postmodern ethics a new moral landscape emerges of hope and new possibilities. As artists and designers we can combine our talents and seek to re-touch the real through making and constructing our own narratives of representation. In the world of the Matrix it is interesting to see that the hollow book that represents simulacra and simulacrum is handmade with a green cloth binding with its title in embossed type. The prop no doubt made by an expert craftsperson. This craft is of course linked to the crafts of camera work, editing, special effects creation and all the other skills required by the community of film-makers. Debates in seminars have suggested to me that our ethical and moral world is one that needs rebuilding and perhaps one avenue we can take as artists and designers is to do this collectively alongside the collective sharing of our individual crafts. Is this perhaps a move towards a new type of guild system?

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