Communication is a fascinating thing – because it isn’t really a thing. Nobody has ever seen ‘a’ communication. Of course, there are books, songs, emails and posts like this, but if noone ever reads this text, it isn’t communicating anything. A poem in a drawer that nobody but the poet has ever seen isn’t communication. It has to be shared, people have to read and ‘understand’ it (“I don’t get it, but this seems to be a poem”) and then to respond to it – for instance by writing another one. Or by today’s way of approval: “I like.”
This is why I prefer the plural: communications. It takes two to communicate, the same way it takes two to tango – taali do haath se bajtihai.
Some communications make a hell of a career for themselves. They go viral. Literally, they are infectious. Older examples are the Bible. The Quran. Homer’s Odyssey. Or think of songs by Taylor Swift, films by Spielberg, poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, paintings by Sadequain. Or even of everyday phrases like ‘You know’, and words like ‘like’. Other forms aren’t successful at all. We can call them flops.
As a theorist, I am interested in the mechanisms of this selection. Why do some terms become popular while others don’t? Take, for instance, the word ‘Globalization’, that was used long before, but only after Theodore Levitt mentioned it in an 1983 article, the term itself became ‘global’. Or ‘climate change’. I would have never imagined that a term as complicated as ‘deconstruction’ could become so popular, but nowadays nearly everyone claims to be a deconstructivist.
The word that Paul J. Crutzen coined in 2000 has also made a remarkable career: ‘anthropocene’. What are the reasons for this success story?
To me, the main reason is that ‘anthropecene’ is not – as it claims to be – simply and solely a geological term. It has a deeply moral dimension to it. It includes a dramatic gesture that ascribes responsibility and at the same time asks for possible charges. Not humanity, so the idea, but the West, the European civilization is in the dock.This is why some prefer to speak of the ‘Eurocene’ instead. (Personally, I’d prefer to talk about those agencies that have acquired industrial techniques developed in Europe – and those agencies can include Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese as well as Germans or ‘Britishers’.)
This, however, is not the only reason for its success. It also matches perfectly with another semantic virus – the apocalypse. As Peter Sloterdijk has shown, the term anthropocene is conclusive only in the apocalyptic logic in which the world is evaluated from its end, as a sorting method in which the wicked are separated from the good. Which explains why it has become such an important part of the end rhetoric of the intellectual elite, especially in former European colonies like Pakistan.
I’ll be the first to admit that watching the world end in a movie can be fun, just like a rollercoaster ride. While buildings and people go down in flames and disaster strikes, we comfortably sit in our chairs, munching on some popcorn. But the prophets of the apocalypse are dead serious. They don’t just tell a horror story. They mean it: “Breaking news – the end is near!” What could be the function of this warning?
The answer is simple: visions of the end bring those who proclaim it an interested audience. And in the best case: converts. If the end is near and inevitable, then there is only one salvation – to profess the faith. It must of course be the right faith. Many of those who proclaim the end do have – coincidentally, of course – exactly this product to sell.
Communication is a fascinating thing, but it won’t save our planet – nor is it interested in doing so. All it wants to do is to continue. If this planet dies, it can’t. Maybe that’s why we should try to save it – so we can go on telling each other stories about the end.
Writer Tim Bullamore is working on a longer version that will be published in The Times soon – hopefully once again using one of our photographs!
Die Zündfunk-Sendung über George Spencer-Brown ist jetzt wieder online:
Script: “Gesetze für alles – Gesetze für nichts. Ein Anruf bei George Spencer-Brown, dem Erfinder der Laws of Form” (BR, Zündfunk Generator 29.09.2013)
> Earlier this afternoon I received a telephone call from Market Lavington
> Care Home to tell me that George Spencer-Brown passed away peacefully at
> 16.05 yesterday afternoon, 25th August 2016.
> It was his wish to be buried at Brookwood cemetery in unconsecrated ground,
> near Charles Bradlaugh, one of his heroes. I will do what I can to ensure
> this wish is met.
> I will be in contact again in a few days when I have spoken further with the
> nursing home and social services.
> With best wishes to all,
This is the second email about the EU referendum you’ve received from me since I uploaded my posters at the end of April.
We’ve now updated the posters, shifting the focus from voter registration to getting people out to vote Remain on 23rd June.
Please go to my website www.tillmans.co.uk to download both jpgs for social media and a PDF to self print posters. Please forward this mail and encourage friends to do the same. No need to hashtag me when posting.
A couple of nights ago I wrote a comment piece for Time Out London magazine and website to be published on Monday. In it I use an image that came to my mind the other day. Should a Leave vote happen next Thursday, Britain’s message to the 444 million remaining EU members will feel a bit like this:
We lived together for over 40 years in this apartment building of 28 flats. Every member having a key to their own flat and some having even an extra lock on like Britain. We lived together in peace and got used to each other’s oddities. We even got down the utility bills, like phone and air travel and many more, but now I can’t stand living with you any longer. I hate it so much that I want to move out.
Brexiters shelter the public from having to think about what a snub this would be. The EU is not a machine; it is the representation of 508 million people.
Please post the posters and messages, maybe one a day to keep Brexit away.
The xenophobic Vote Leave campaign is part of an international mood to break things. Whether it’s Trump or Johnson, these attacks on the pillars of our society all reflect the same divisive mood.
09/06/16 – 29/07/16
ERÖFFNUNG DONNERSTAG, 09/06/16, 19H
TANJA POL GALERIE
LUDWIGSTRASSE 7, 80539 MÜNCHEN
A project around activist videos
Open Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm – 6pm
From 2nd June onwards
curated by Marianna Liosi and Between Bridges
“The selection of videos that I have proposed for Between Broadcast stems from the continuation of my research around spectatorship, the generative role of the viewer and their engagement through the mediation of technology.
At this particular stage I’m interested in the re-thinking of videos found on YouTube, visual accounts that have been posted by anonymous citizens and excerpts from broadcasting channels from between 2010 – 2015, whilst considering how the value of these videos can change over time.
I’ve chosen videos of pacifist collective gatherings, public speeches, empowering anecdotes as well as expressions of dissent that have gained thousands of ‘views’ and that have shaped my imagination of certain political events, episodes in which citizens have shown active political reaction towards an oppressive status quo. Situations that I feel I’ve experienced through the screen. These visual fragments – lasting minutes or just seconds – are still very iconic today and empowering for me and I remember them as crucial for describing an intense historical time or emblematic moment.
Subjective reports from personal perspectives that show various forms of activism in public which, thanks to their viral circulation through ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ across online social media platforms, have contributed towards the construction of individual and collective historical legitimization of such events.
I have invited Between Bridges to contribute their own selection of videos from YouTube that have made an impression on them, of images that have stayed with them over time and that they consider examples of activism.
How has our affection for these images evolved over the time? What kind of engagement do we have with them? What might this long lasting empathy produce? Is the act of remembering an additional form of circulation for these images? If so, what sort of collective outcome can it generate?” (Marianna Losi)
Every Thursday evening events:
2nd June, 7pm
Opening : Between Broadcast, An event curated by Marianna Liosi & Between Bridges
9th June, 7pm
Between Broadcast, An event curated by Marianna Liosi & Between Bridges
Film screening : Passagen (2005) by Stefan Constantinescu (62 min, OV with English subtitles)
Passagen follows uprooted lives of three Chileans who were forced to leave Chile in the aftermath of the coup d’état led by Pinochet in 1973. All three ended up living under Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist dictatorship, and in time, two of them decided to emigrate to Sweden, while one managed finally to return to his homeland. Through the protagonists’ shared experiences, the film touches on the distinct social structures in Chile, Romania and Sweden. A film about refugees, expectations, estrangement, prejudices and loneliness, as well as about the ways in which the past reflects into the present.
16th June, 7pm
Between Broadcast, An event curated by Marianna Liosi & Between Bridges
Film screening: Prime Time in the Camps (1993) by Chris Marker (28 min, OV with English subtitles)
In Roska Camp in Slovenia, Bosnian refugees, deprived of everything they owned, decide, with the technical help of a N.G.O., to put together a way to retrieve information. They create a television programme, equipped with all the elements to make it appear like actual Television: with anchorpersons, jingles, and pirating of shows that talks about them. Reflecting on spectatorship and self-representation, the film reflects on the attempt of refugees to emerge from the forced invisibility and anonymity and to enter the official chronicle
23rd June, 7pm
The EU referendum in the UK: Public screening at Between Bridges of the referendum results as they come in.
30th June, 7pm
Film screening curated by Yusuf Etiman. (Details to be announced)
Marianna Liosi (b. 1982, Italy, is an independent curator living in Berlin. Through her research she explores the aesthetics of social, economic and political dynamics, with specific attention to media, technology and the question of spectatorship in relation to engagement. She has curated exhibitions, film programmes, and workshops. Among them: Regarding Spectatorship: Revolt and the Distant Observer, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin (2015); Leisure Complex, Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, Germany (2014); When spectators work, workers observe, Kunsthuis SYB, Beetsterzwaag, The Netherlands (2014). She has recently published on opendemocracy.net the text: Human rights and the internet from a curatorial perspective: reflections on the show Regarding Spectatorship: Revolt and the Distant Observer.
Meeting Place –
Workshop: Saturday, 11th June, 3pm – 6pm
Craftworkshop with 1+all
1+all is an initiative intended to integrate Refugees into networks through individual crafting techniques. Everybody is welcome to join and no experience is required. The aim is to collectively develop a shirt collection for a fashion show. 1+all provides it’s knowhow, techniques, materials and tools. In this workshop we’ll knit, stitch, crochet, cut out, braid, knot, talk and laugh. www.one-and-all.de
I’m sure you are also following with horror the rightwards drift and anti-EU sentiment brewing across Europe. The Dutch referendum should be the final wake-up call, alerting people to the real risk of the UK’s EU referendum resulting in a victory for Leave.
The official ‘Remain’ campaign feels lame and is lacking in passion. It also lacks an active drive to get voters registered – and with the deadline already falling two weeks before the referendum, this should be an urgent priority.
I want to get involved and actively campaign. In particular, I want to work towards maximizing turnout among younger voters by focusing on the first, crucial step: voter registration – the deadline for which is June 7! So anyone who hasn’t registered before this date has no chance of having a say, no matter how strongly they feel about the issue. So the really crucial date is June 7. Everyone’s grannies registered their vote long ago, but students no longer get automatically registered by their unis. This is because of a new law brought in by the Conservatives that makes it possible for them to disenfranchise up to 800,000 students, who as a group tend to move around a lot more and so drop off the voter register easily. I feel that we have reached a critical moment that could prove to be a turning point for Europe as we know and enjoy it – one that might result in a cascade of problematic consequences and political fall-out. Firstly, the weakening of the EU is a goal being actively pursued by strongmen like Vladimir Putin and European parties on the far-right. Brexit could effectively spell the end of the EU. It’s a flawed and problematic institution, but on the whole it stands for a democratic worldview, human rights and favours cooperation over confrontation.
It could prove to be a one-in-a-generation moment. Can you imagine the years of renegotiations for undoing treaties, and all the negativity that would surround that.
Over the past few weeks, my assistants at my London and Berlin studios and Between Bridges have been working with me on these texts and designs. Please download here a PDF (15 mb) of 25 ready-to-print posters which my studio and myself wrote and designed over the last few weeks. They are best in A3 but also work of course in A4. Just take the PDF to any copy shop and ask for A3 size colour laser prints. I noticed the images spread fast on social media but then don’t stick around. Please help make the campaign have a lasting presence by making prints and physically sticking them up. I consider them open-source, you can take my name tag off if more appropriate.
Let’s hope for the best – but hope may not be enough.