Spotlight Series

Spotlight: N-o-nS…e;nSI/c::::a_L

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we admire, and this week we’re focusing our attention on the work of N-o-nS…e;nSI/c::::a_L. We’re starting off the week with an excerpt from Harry Dodges “The River of the Mother of God: Notes on Indeterminacy.” Co-founder Vivian Sming writes, “Dodge begins his text by describing it as a chain of ‘decontextualized paragraphs, notes.’ Dodge creates a dizzying trail, leaving behind morsels of thought on spatial awareness, free-falling, and groundlessness as it relates to language, meaning, and identity. Weaving together physics and chemistry with love notes and memories, along with Gertrude Stein, Fred Moten, and Beatriz Preciado, among others, Dodge’s text is a murky river without a destination, in which the reader is carried, swept, and at times thrown around.” This essay first appeared in N-o-nS…e;nSI/c::::a_L’s 2014 issue, (ethics).

In a short essay called “In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective,” Hito Steyerl suggests the idea of “free-falling” to describe a particularly contemporary dysphoria. Opening with a bit of information about the sextant (which uses the horizon line as the marker by which orientation is constructed) she chronicles a skeletal, not wholly idiosyncratic history of visual modalities including single-point perspective, cubism, experiments in abstraction, collage, followed by photographic and filmic technologies such as superimposition, montage, green screen, overlapping computer frames, and multiple screen projections. These artistic innovations are followed by radical intellectual leaps in theoretical physics and then myriad forces of industry brought to bear on our perception: the conveyor belt, warfare, advertising.[1] The preponderance of aviation in turn expands possibilities for collisions and nose-diving, and the age of space exploration breeds hundreds of camera-cum-satellites. We’ve now been thoroughly inundated with “aerial views issuing from the military–entertainment complex.”

Steyerl suggests that this shift to what she calls vertical perspective—a looking down on earth, or yourself, or the “ground,” this gaze situated on the “y-axis”—might be a radical one. Not only because it transfers the locus of an internal, embodied point of view to a vantage that is external, as she says, “a subject safely folded into surveillance technology…a disembodied and remote-controlled gaze,” but because this new mental orientation also generates a new kind of subject, one that is floating, looking down at a multiple, fragmented, collaged imaginary “ground.” She suggests that “the horizons have, in fact, been shattered. Time is out of joint and we no longer know whether we are objects or subjects as we spiral down in an imperceptible free fall.” Of course, this type of extreme loss of orientation (especially in the context of a kind of throbbing, gigantic effluvium of fragmented hyper-realism and purely visual, severally displaced story–apparati) indicates a new kind of looker, one that is somehow multiple, many, a creature-becoming or perhaps a kind of flayed, woven desideratum, “created and recreated by ever-new articulations of the crowd.”

Read the full text here.