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DESIRE

WEEK 5
UNSW Art & Design, ADAD1002

Pamela Rozenkranz, Our Product, Venice Biennale, Swiss Pavilion, 2015

A students desiring machine project from 2014

Aims for Week 5

Examine how professional art and design practices


understand, use and transform desire.

Expand our understanding of desire beyond


consumerist frameworks to something that drives
cultural and social formations.

Consider how and why desire functions in our


practice and in what ways it can be
harnessed/transformed.

Go over the requirements for Assessment Two in


detail.

Keywords
erotics; love; longing; intensity;
libido; drive; interest; pleasure;
ambition; aspiration; crush;
optimism; want; need; intimacy;
proximity; subjectivity; affect;
illusion; fantasy; projection;
expression; shame;
embarrassment; ecstasy;
pleasure; sexuality; impulse;
relationality; sensuality;
responsibility; lust.
A students Tumblr post documenting research into desire, 2015

Discussion
Desire, broadly speaking, refers to an extension of the
self towards some other another person, an object, a
concept, an ideal. We often think of desire for
commodities and luxuries (consumerism) and desire as
a romantic/erotic impulse. But desire is more than that:
it refers to the affective (remember Affect from Week
3?) intensity that drives us in almost every aspect of
our life. Its also a powerful collective intensity that
drives cultural and social formations in different ways at
different times.
We take Deleuze and Guattaris notion that desire
produces its object as an interesting concept for
contemporary art and design. This notion rejects the
assumption that we desire what we lack and we move
towards the object of desire to fulfil a deficit instead, it
argues that desire constructs what it wants. This
means that desire makes its own experience. This
week were going to explore how desire makes itself in
art and design.

Cave, by 2015 Gateway student Aston Creus.


Aston hacked a bunch of Nintendo DSs and
programmed them with a pastiche of pornographic
scenes from the early VR site Second Life. This is
a beautiful example of media archaeology
intersecting with collectively-produced images and
graphics of publicly-expressed desire and
intimacy.

Desire and the Socio-Political


Clare Milledge, Self-Reflexive Critique: Alpha Mu, (2016)

If desire is productive or causal, then its product is itself


real (and not illusory or noumenal): the entire
socio-political field, Deleuze argues, must be seen as the
historically determined product of desire.
Daniel E. Smith, Deleuzes Question of Desire:Toward an
Immanent Theory of Ethics, Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical
Philosophy, 2007, p 75.
http://www.parrhesiajournal.org/parrhesia02/parrhesia02_smit
h.pdf

In other words, desire makes things happen.


Tully Arnot, Lonely Sculpture (2014)

We can think of desire as the movement towards something


(an object, idea, image) that is brings that something into
being. Art and design often explore this productive potential of
desire, playing with the idea of desire as something that
mobilises, changes, and adds to daily life.

Milledge and Arnot, both Sydney-based artists, have recently made work looking at
the way that Tinder has leveraged, mediated, gamified, and extended romantic and
erotic desire. Rather than taking a moral position on such matters, both have
understood the changing interface of desire as an opportunity to examine the
vocab of contemporary sexuality and sociality.

Artist Amalia Ulman cites Naomi Wolf in a recent


presentation on her work, The model dream is
probably the most widespread contemporary
fantasy shared by young women of all
backgrounds.

Desire creates representations and simulations.

Hopefully, we are the last or among the last


generations of a collapsing empire. No one will cry
serious tears for the end of European bourgeois
culture. It's the shiny surface of a world of shit. But
in the meantime, we create proofs that we are
somehow still living and we distribute them
among each other. Like our ancestors who were
laborers and slaves and servants and wives but still
carried in themselves the secret of their selfhood,
even as they were made into things.
We too hold the sharp object of survival tightly
in our closed fists. The artwork, the pop song,
the selfie, the shirt that looks so good on you,
the kiss you still remember, the forgiveness of
friends, the house party, the email that came at
the right moment. The network in which bodies
circulate is also, despite itself, the
kaleidoscopic circulation of lives.

View the discussion to hear about some of the issues at


work in Amalia Ulmans instagram performance
Excellences and Perfections, (2014). Suggested view
from 50.40 min to 59.30 min
http://livestream.com/icalondon/ica-site-do-you-follow-artcirculation-3

Hannah Black in conversation with Amalia Ulman,


Derica Shields and Michael Connor, Do you follow?
Art in Circulation, October 2014

Desire and the Body


A lot of work engaged with notions of desire
evokes or signifies the body, its affects, and its
impulses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03QDL-xwyvY
documentation from 1.00 min
Blushing is associated with being ashamed, but if you
mention that youre blushing, its as if youre proud of
being ashamed: Look! I am blushing for you! What
makes someone blush exactly? Blood pumping faster and
becoming visible through the skin. I usually dont blush,
but the medication brought that ability to the surface. I am
interested in how we are entangled with our sexual
material, and at what point we can be independent of it.
This work is not about identifying the limits of a female
body, of course. Its about exploring how perceptions of
our physicalityaspects like blushingare in fact
culturally constructed.
Pamela Rozenkranz

Pamela Rozenkranz, Our Product, Swiss Pavilion Venice Biennale, 2015

Art and design practices may mimic the desirability of


commodities as a strategy to approach and critique the
language of desire that commodity culture trades on.
I work with specific brandssuch as Evian or Fiji in the case of bottled
waterto activate the history of the material substances in the product and
contrast it with its idealized meaning. In the case of my Fiji series I take on
their copyright slogan Untouched by Man, for example. Their strategy is to
advertise the product as water from a source that has not yet been touched by
the compromised air of the 21st century, but the bottled water becomes the
essence of what actually constitutes that compromise. I think it is important to
collapse the notion of culture into a very large term for nature. The blurring
of the distinction between natural and synthetic products highlights the fact
that these plastic water bottles, or Samsung LCD flat screens, ASICS
sneakers, etc., are embedded in a complex ecological and geopolitical web
that has successfully been extracted away from the ready-to-consume
product. Consider, in the case of Samsung, the wars for oil and coltan being
fought at this moment. Or, to return to the discussion of bottled water, there
are particles that make plastics smoother that go into the drain system and
back into rivers and seas. This contamination has effects on the hormonal
balance: by mimicking estrogen, these chemicals are most likely responsible
for girls menstruating earlier and boys growing less hair, alongside other more
complicated consequences. Invisible, this water is still looking pure and wet
but is in fact soaked with human influence.
Pamela Rozenkranz

Pamela Rozenkranz, (top) Stay True, from the series Firm Being, 2009; Alisa Baremboym, (bottom), Adaptic
Systems, 2013, mangled steel, archival pigment inks on silk, ceramic, flat bungee, tinted vinyl, syphon sieve, magnets
and hardware, 47 by 30 by 16 inches.

Perhaps
commodities can
desire us too?
Walter Benjamin writes, If the
soul of the commodity which Marx
occasionally mentions in jest
existed it would be the most
empathetic ever encountered in
the realm of souls for it would
have to see in everyone the buyer
in whose hand and house its
wants to nestle.
Walter Benjamin, Walter Benjamin and the
The Arcades Project, Bloomsbury, p 71.

Desirous objects

Marcel Duchamp, Coin de chastet, (Wedge of Chastity), galvanised plaster, dental wax, 1954

The plaster and dental plastic original was made in 1954 when, at the age of 67,
Duchamp took as his second wife Alexina 'Teeny' Matisse. The artist explained, 'It was
my wedding present to her. We still have it on our table. We usually take it with us, like
a wedding ring, no?' (Pierre Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp, New York
1971, p.88). Duchamp's technical assistant on the sculpture was a dental mechanic,
Sacha Maruchess. The union of the two forms expresses a coupling of male and
female, or positive and negative shapes.

Desire for knowledge & discovery

Kelvin Doe a fifteen year old designer/inventor from Sierra Leone who at the age of 15 set up his
own radio station with the FM transmitter, circuit board, three channel mixer, microphone receiver,
and electric generator he pieced together from discarded parts he found in the garbage.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOLOLrUBRBY

Anicka Yi, You can call me f, installation


and performance, The Kitchen, 2015
Perishable substances, from deep-fried
flowers to recalled powdered milk, potato
chips, or snail excretions, are the
Korean-born artist Anicka Yis (b. 1971)
medium of choice. They are also the
building blocks for her peculiar brand of
techno-sensual alchemy, which assaults
the senses and elicits affective
responses.

Anicka Yi, 235,681K of Digital Spit, PVC and leather bag, hair gel, tripe, 10 x 14 x 20 inches, 2010

The task of turning the tide of negativity is an ethical transformative process. It aims at achieving the freedom of
understanding, through the awareness of our limits, of our bondage. This results in the freedom to affirm ones
essence as joy, through encounters and minglings with other bodies, entities, beings and forces. Ethics means
faithfulness to this potentia, or the desire to become.
Rosi Bardotti, The Ethics of Becoming Imperceptible, p2.

More work by Aston: SQUEEZE, 2015.


(Fruit, LCD display, capacitive touch sensors, Omegle,
Raspberry Pi.)

Studio exercise
Choose from one of the artists discussed in todays
resources.

In pairs or groups of three, identify how their practice


engages with the notion of desire as productive, i.e.,
desire as making something happen.

Thinking about desire in this way, together create a


wearable or designed object that produces desire.

[This work plays] with a physical, visceral interface for erotic


roleplaying on Omegle. By fondling and prodding the
exposed fruit, suggestive sentences are randomly generated
from a corpus, derived from transcripts of erotic roleplay, food
fetish literature, and cooking recipes. These are then sent in
realtime to a stranger you are paired with on Omegle.

# PHILOSOPHY /// To Have Done with the Massacre of the


Body by Flix Guattari
Preview essay - click through link for whole reading.
No matter how much it proclaims its pseudo-tolerance, the capitalist system in all its forms (family, school,
factories, army, codes, discourse) continues to subjugate all desires, sexuality, and affects to the dictatorship
of its totalitarian organization, founded on exploitation, property, male power, profit, productivity
Tirelessly it continues its dirty work of castrating, suppressing, torturing, and dividing up our bodies in order to
inscribe its laws on our flesh, in order to rivet to our subconscious its mechanisms for reproducing this system
of enslavement.
With its throttling, its stasis, its lesions, its neuroses, the capitalist state imposes its norms, establishes its
models, imprints its features, assigns its roles, propagates its program Using every available access route
into our organisms, it insinuates into the depths of our insides its roots of death. It usurps our organs, disrupts
our vital functions, mutilates our pleasure, subjugates all lived experience to the control of its condemning
judgments. It makes of each individual a cripple, cut off from his or her body, a stranger to his or her own
desires.
To reinforce its social terror which it forces individuals to experience as their own guilt, the capitalist army of
occupation strives, through an ever more refined system of aggression, provocation, and blackmail, to repress,
to exclude, and to neutralize all those practices of desire which do not reproduce the established form of
domination.
In this way the system perpetuates a centuries-old regime of spoiled pleasures, sacrifice, resignation,
institutionalized masochism, and death. It is a castrating regime, which produces a guilty, neurotic, scrabbling,
submissive drudge of a human being.
This antiquated world, which stinks everywhere of dead flesh, horrifies us and convinces us of the necessity of
carrying the revolutionary struggle against capitalist oppression into that territory where the oppression is most
deeply rooted: the living body.
It is the body and all the desire it produces that we wish to liberate from foreign domination. It is on that
ground that we wish to work for the liberation of society. There is no boundary between the two elements. I
oppress myself inasmuch as that I is the produced of a system of oppression that extends to all aspects of
living.
The revolutionary consciousness is a mystification if it is not situated within a revolutionary body, that is to
say, within a body that produces its own liberation.

#RUIN LUST /// In this short, meditative film made to accompany the exhibition, artworks are transposed from gallery
walls and reimagined within a ruinous landscape, whilst we hear a passage from the book 'Pleasure of Ruins', by Rose Macaulay.

Ruin Lust, an exhibition at Tate Britain from 4 March 2014,


offers a guide to the mournful, thrilling, comic and
perverse uses of ruins in art from the seventeenth century
to the present day. The exhibition is the widest-ranging on
the subject to date and includes over 100 works by artists
such as J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, John Martin,
Eduardo Paolozzi, Rachel Whiteread and Tacita Dean.

#Pipilotti Rist // I'm a victim of this song. [1995]

BIOGRAPHY
Pipilotti Rist produces multi-projector video installations that fuse the bodily and the spiritual in what
have been called near-psychedelic experiences. Her rich vocabulary of sensual experience contrasts
the familiar with the strange, teasing out secret desires. Rist attempts to break down the barriers
between public and private space, creating fantastic, pleasure-filled domestic interiors that include
video, music, light effects, and furniture. The idea, she explains, is that now weve explored the
whole geographical world, pictures or films are the new, unexplored spaces into which we can
escape. In 2009 she created Pour Your Body Out, a 25-foot video installation projected in the atrium
of the Museum of Modern Art. Visitors were encouraged to take off their shoes and lounge on big
comfortable cushions while they experienced the colorful video projected overhead.

In Ever is Over All (1997), a modern-day fable, a woman strolls down the street, swinging a large
flower that strikes parked cars and, to her delight, shatters their windows. (Beyoncs recent video
for Hold Up (from Lemonade) is an homage to this work. In both texts, the transformative desire is
extends not towards the love object, but towards the destruction of private property. Lemonade can
be read as an album dedicated to the historical, cultural, social and personal traumas of black life in
the US. Romantic love is used a way of exploring the possibility of desire as a radical response to
state-led violence.)
In Sip My Ocean (1996), a video is projected in duplicate as mirrored reflections on two adjoining
walls, with the corner between them an immobile seam around which psychedelic configurations
radiate and swirl. A bikini-clad woman is seen intermittently frolicking underwater, her obvious
pleasure and sense of self-containment is transmitted to the viewer as part of a mesmerising
narrative about longing, desire, and dreams of fulfillment.

For next week:


Continue to work towards Assessment 2.
Make sure you reflect on Assessment 1.
What did you learn? What did you discover?
Where do you want to go from here?
Post to Tumblr a reflection on how youll
move from the poster project to the major
project.

Former Gateway teacher Andrew Brooksy Brooks


wearing former Gateway student Angels unwearable
wearables. Angel was interested in how desire could be
activated by dysfunctional fashion and restrictive,
constrictive pieces that brought the body into proximity
with itself.