Tag: MIT Press

The Stack : On Software and Sovereignty
by Benjamin H. Bratton

What has planetary-scale computation done to our geopolitical realities? It takes different forms at different scales—from energy and mineral sourcing and subterranean cloud infrastructure to urban software and massive universal addressing systems; from interfaces drawn by the augmentation of the hand and eye to users identified by self—quantification and the arrival of legions of sensors, algorithms, and robots. Together, how do these distort and deform modern political geographies and produce new territories in their own image?

In The Stack, Benjamin Bratton proposes that these different genres of computation—smart grids, cloud platforms, mobile apps, smart cities, the Internet of Things, automation—can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental megastructure called The Stack that is both a computational apparatus and a new governing architecture. We are inside The Stack and it is inside of us.

In an account that is both theoretical and technical, drawing on political philosophy, architectural theory, and software studies, Bratton explores six layers of The Stack: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, User. Each is mapped on its own terms and understood as a component within the larger whole built from hard and soft systems intermingling—not only computational forms but also social, human, and physical forces. This model, informed by the logic of the multilayered structure of protocol “stacks,” in which network technologies operate within a modular and vertical order, offers a comprehensive image of our emerging infrastructure and a platform for its ongoing reinvention.

The Stack is an interdisciplinary design brief for a new geopolitics that works with and for planetary-scale computation. Interweaving the continental, urban, and perceptual scales, it shows how we can better build, dwell within, communicate with, and govern our worlds.

thestack.org

About the Author
Benjamin H. Bratton is a theorist whose work spans philosophy, computer science, and design. He is Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is also Visiting Professor of Critical Studies at SCI-Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture) and Professor of Digital Design at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

Endorsements
“In The Stack, Benjamin Bratton shows, with brilliant insight and imagination, what the world is coming to look like in an era of planetary-scale computing. He cuts through many received ideas about technology, globalization, and so forth and presents a fresh vision of the architecture of the world.”
—McKenzie Wark, author of Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene

“Endlessly thought-provoking, this amazing book is both cognitive mapping and a projective geometry of the new dimensions of technological reality we live in.”
—Kim Stanley Robinson, author of 2312

“The Stack is a major achievement. It is more than just philosophy of technology, software studies, or design criticism; it analyzes and guides our thinking in a baffling Anthropocenic era when computation works at the planetary scale and constitutes governance.”
—Natalie Jeremijenko, Associate Professor of Art, Computer Science, and Environmental Studies, New York University

“The Stack imagines a design brief for the whole world while floating or falling through all the ever-efflorescent plasmas and atmospheres of digital information.”
—Keller Easterling, Professor, Yale School of Architecture; author of Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space

“This political geography of computation is a strange, marvelous text of great conceptual beauty. Benjamin Bratton’s The Stack breaks more new ground than a carpet bombing. The Stack itself may or may not exist, but it’s left everything that came before it in a state of rubble.”
—Bruce Sterling

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On The Museum’s Ruins
by Douglas Crimp (photographs by Louise Lawler)

On the Museum’s Ruins presents Douglas Crimp’s criticism of contemporary art, its institutions, and its politics alongside photographic works by the artist Louise Lawler to create a collaborative project that is itself an example of postmodern practice at its most provocative. Crimp elaborates the new paradigm of postmodernism through analyses of art practices broadly conceived, not only the practices of artists—Robert Rauschenberg, Cindy Sherman, Marcel Broodthaers, Richard Serra, Sherrie Levine, and Robert Mapplethorpe—but those of critics and curators, of international exhibitions, and of new or refurbished museums such as the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart and the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin.

The essays:

– Photographs at the End of Modernism.
– On the Museum’s Ruins.
– The Museum’s Old, the Library’s New Subject.
– The End of Painting.
– The Photographic Activity of Postmodernism.
– Appropriating Appropriation.
– Redefining Site Specificity.
– This is Not a Museum of Art.
– The Art of Exhibition.
– The Postmodern Museum.

About the Author
Douglas Crimp is Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester. He is the author of On the Museum’s Ruins and Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics, both published by the MIT Press.

Reviews
“Literate and provocative speculations about art, photography, postmodernism, homoeroticism, Rauchenberg and Mapplethorpe, museums and libraries.”

Endorsements
“Crimp’s essays comprise one of the most interesting and incisive bodies of work on practices of contemporary art in relationships to art as institution.”
—Andreas Huyssen, Columbia University

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The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp
by Elena Filipovic


This groundbreaking and richly illustrated book tells a new story of the twentieth century’s most influential artist, recounted not so much through his artwork as through his “non-art” work. Marcel Duchamp is largely understood in critical and popular discourse in terms of the objects he produced, whether readymade or meticulously fabricated. Elena Filipovic asks us instead to understand Duchamp’s art through activities not normally seen as artistic—from exhibition making and art dealing to administrating and publicizing. These were no occasional pursuits; Filipovic argues that for Duchamp, these fugitive tasks were a veritable lifework.

Drawing on many rarely seen images, Filipovic traces a variety of practices and projects undertaken by Duchamp from 1913 to 1969, from his invention of the readymade to the release of his last, posthumous work. She examines Duchamp’s note writing, archiving, and quasi-photographic activities, which resulted in the Box of 1914 and the Green Box; his art dealing, marketing, and curating that culminated in experimental exhibitions for the Surrealists and his miniature museum, The Boîte-en-valise; and his administrative efforts and clandestine maneuvering in order to posthumously embed his Étant donnés into a museum. Demonstrating how those activities reflect the artist’s questioning of reproduction and originality, as well as photography and the exhibition, Filipovic proposes that Duchamp’s “non-art” labor, and in particular his curatorial strategies, more than merely accompanied his more famous artworks; in a certain sense, they made them.

Through Duchamp’s elusive but vital activities he revised the idea of what a modern artist could be. With this fascinating book, Filipovic in turn revises the very idea of Duchamp.

About the Author
Elena Filipovic, an art historian, is Director and Chief Curator of the Kunsthalle Basel. Among her curatorial projects is the traveling retrospective “Marcel Duchamp: A Work That Is Not a Work ‘of Art’” (2008-2009).

Endorsements:
“In the 1970s Lucy Lippard remarked that Duchamp was already too much written about. How, then, is one to contribute effectively to the Duchamp literature today, given that it has become all the more voluminous since? In The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp Elena Filipovic finds a way, and does so with great intelligence. She claims, rightly, that the dominant readings of Duchamp have led to an occlusion of the ‘fugitive actions’ undertaken by Duchamp vis-à-vis the institution of art, and it is there that she locates her incisive study—specifically on ‘his role as administrator, archivist, art advisor, curator, publicist, reproduction maker, and salesman.’ Rather than see these activities as ancillary to his life as an artist, Filipovic locates them, brilliantly, at its center; they are indeed only ‘apparently marginal.’ This is just the book to reanimate discourse around Duchamp.”
—Hal Foster, Townsend Martin Class of 1917 Professor, Princeton University, author of Compulsive Beauty and Prosthetic Gods

“When an artist becomes a curator today, the exhibition is often treated like an extension of the artist’s medium. A century ago when Duchamp, having ceased to consider himself a professional artist, undertook to help out his friends by designing their exhibitions, did he think like a modernist fixated on medium specificity? This is the classic question that lies behind Elena Filipovic’s careful research in the archives. In light of her new syntheses, she rewrites the question to read: just how did Duchamp open up new possibilities for curators? The answer: the medium was not his message. Duchamp worked without professing, in a series of small, nonretinal steps; he avoided creating a single, prototypical model. He left behind a panorama of new ideas. Filipovic has collected them into a book that curators will come to regard as a resource.”
—Molly Nesbit, Professor of Art History, Vassar College, author of Their Common Sense

“In 1959, Marcel Duchamp referred to himself as ‘a non-artist.’ Exactly what he meant by this has never been fully explained until now, a lacuna in the vast literature on this artist that finally has been filled by Elena Filipovic’s marvelous new book, the first to deal with the various activities that preoccupied Duchamp when he wasn’t making art, particularly in the realm of curating (not only his own work, but that of his fellow artists in various exhibitions that he oversaw). Filipovic argues that these activities occur with such frequency and consistency in Duchamp’s life that they must be considered an integral component of his creative endeavors. The result is an entirely new way to look at the work of this important and highly influential artist.”
—Francis M. Naumann, author of The Recurrent, Haunting Ghost

“Yes, another Duchamp book. The one we least expected, but perhaps the one that we now need the most. Elena Filipovic’s brilliant book locates a ‘curatorial’ logic at the heart of Duchamp’s (deeply fascinating, often confusing, and impossibly disparate) activities. But more crucial even than its tracing of a long-ignored curatorial modernism, this book will in turn challenge what it might mean to curate today, at precisely the moment curators increasingly claim an artistic dimension for their own work.”
—George Baker, Professor of Art History, UCLA, author of The Artwork Caught by the Tail

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Displaying the Marvelous
Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, and Surrealist Exhibition Installations

Surrealism in its late phase often abandoned neutral exhibition spaces in favor of environments that embodied subjective ideologies. These exhibitions offered startled viewers an early version of installation art before the form existed as such. In Displaying the Marvelous, Lewis Kachur explores this development by analyzing three elaborate Surrealist installations created between 1938 and 1942. The first two, the “Exposition Internationale du Surrealisme” (1938) and the “Dream of Venus” at the New York World’s Fair (1939), dealt with the fetishization of the female body. The third, “First Papers of Surrealism” (1942), focused not on the figure but on the entire expanse of the exhibition space, thus contributing to the development of nonfigurative art in New York. Kachur presents a full visual and verbal reconstruction of each of the exhibitions, evoking the sequence that the contemporary viewer would have encountered.

The book considers Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali, two artists who are not usually compared, within a common framework. Duchamp specialized in frustrating the spectator, using his ironic wit to call into question the definition of the work of art. Dali was a master at disorienting the senses by establishing and then undermining everyday spatial and object properties. The Surrealist challenge, as voiced by Andre Breton, was to evoke the marvelous. Duchamp and Dali extended that challenge to the physical and commercial realm of the exhibition installation.

About the Author
Lewis Kachur is Associate Professor of Art History at Kean University, New Jersey.

“Lewis Kachur hands us a free time-travel ticket, with himself as marvelous pilot. Transporting us into the thick inventions of late Surrealist exhibitions, he gives us the ravishing gift of being there, present at the birthing and, as well, the seeding of so much installation and site-specific art to come decades later. For artists now who feel tied to Grandfather Marcel without having known him, Kachur’s work vividly opens up the real moves of Duchamp’s reinvention of what it is to be an artist. Revealing secret interior paths of communication among artists that flow synaptically across generations, this sumptuous work points to a new holistic way to understand art.”
—Mierle Laderman Ukeles, artist

“A splendid analysis of the late Surrealist exhibitions. Anyone interested in Surrealist art would want this book; anyone interested in the consideration of display in twentieth-century art must have this book.”
—Richard Martin (1945-1999), former curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Perceptive, fascinating, and written with pleasure and delight. The reciprocal exchange between art work and its context is presented with a steady, at times inspired, sense of inquiry.”
—Brian O’Doherty, writer

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