Wednesday, 10 December 2008

hello again,

i found this really great quote by australian artist geoffrey lowe. it is extremely vision forum i think!

it is the beginning of a text called, austalia does not exist.

a bit long, but so is life!


Samuel R. Delany’s 1999 book Times Square Red, Times Square Blue might function as a model for a practice and exegesis PhD. The first essay Blue is a living text, contesting experience, about being out-there-somewhere. It’s described with a loving warmth yet operates within an academic writing, what anthropologists call “thick description”. The second essay, …Three, Two, One, Contact: Red, is theory. In patient detail it proposes difference (lived) between ‘contact’ and ‘networking'. Networking is a hierarchical system (by far the most prevalent in our times now) of grouping people with likeminded others, or people engaging in the same profession or practice. Networking organizes a professional space where people share information and can rise in that area of specialization. You find and attract others working at the same level and expertise as you. Contact on the other hand, is a rather more uncertain enterprise. Contact engages people who are, or may be, unknown to each other. It is inter- and intra-class, features information sharing between those-who-know and those-who-don’t (know) and the value of information or the success of the transaction is marked by the level of satisfaction for those participating in the exchange. Whereas in networking those making the liaison usually do so with a higher or external goal or outcome in mind.

Not surprisingly, this binary is troublesome and difficult to maintain, as each domain inhabits and infects the other. Yet Delany has a capacity to navigate us through and keep the constructs of networking and contact apart, to see what light they can throw on the muddle of our human behaviour. The fieldwork in the first essay takes place in the porn movie theatres of Times Square in Manhattan from the mid-seventies until the late eighties, when the vision of eradicating danger and gentrification led to the area’s transformation to the safe place for families and tourists it resembles today. There’s plenty of room for the ‘other’ and Delany is an enthusiastic participant and diarist. Delany practices what Jesus or psychotherapist Carl R. Rogers calls unconditional love or unconditional positive regard. He’s up for all comers, and is always willing to stretch his own parameters to what risk, attraction, desire and satisfaction may be. The text documents how he extends love to others and loves their pleasure as well.

Equally interesting is the way he documents the changing figure ground relation of the porn theatres and mid town Manhattan from the seventies onwards; a dark place, with few prohibitions and inhibitions where not-knowing (who is there, where you are) becomes almost like a form of friendship. There is one case where an exhibitionist performs a repetitive act that no one really notices. Homeless and challenged people hide and sleep, it’s unknown whether you are predator or prey: but it is this binary that Delany so acceptingly, lovingly and artfully disassembles. There are those who return for years, just come once, create a culture together or remain immune and private. Many regulars form outside and different contacts with those they met in the cinemas often changing from the basis of the original attraction. Some never become really involved because of the obsessions that originally brought them there.

This dark, maybe dank, place with flickering light accepts the desires of almost all of those who are willing or wanting to be there. Much of the action in Times Square Red takes place with homosexual men fellating each other, while the seated one watches straight heterosexual porn on the screen. It’s like Plato’s Cave (not Plato’s Retreat) where people in chains unknowingly watch false images as reality on the cave walls, except Delany blows up Plato’s Cave, and his participants use the images on the screen as a cover for their own needs and fantasies. Of course there are conditions, like violence, violating violations that are banned with complicity between the participants, which is kind of wonderful because the system runs on desire rather than prohibition. In this good government that seeks to find a place for all and their needs we find a community that the writer cherishes enough to share his intimate and intricate knowledge and experience with the reader.