What is our role? Artists thinking about research…

April 27th, 2016

Our most beloved manifestos define the present in a way that we can grasp. The powerful manifestos of modernism appear as short, sharp, passionate shouts. They reduce reality to a simpler structure that we can perceive as a whole. They appear in magazines and little printed books. They sum up the world to just the right size so that action can be itemized and pinned to its door. The 21st century intellectual, however, is not built for the construction of a good manifesto. We traffic in complexity and rely on the belief that the world cannot be reduced to a form that could be handled by a public at large. We are the professional interpreters of the world through our instruments and technologies. From critical theory to quantum field theory, with the craft of language and the Large Hadron Collider, we believe that we reveal, if not truth, then at least truths in the plural. We have, in fact, multiplied truth and meaning. We fill books, libraries, server rooms and now data centres with a multiplication so staggering it is impossible to see what is happening in the world let alone what matters. Data centres are filled with these overwhelming and unstable truths, much of which is proprietary and armies of engineers seem unable to assess its structural integrity. It is not, however, the multiplication of truth which should be held responsible for its instability. Truth has always been unstable. The multiplicity of truth has been essential not for destabilization, but to reveal the inherent instability of truth.

This is the primary tenant of our claim to the condition of now – that the truth is, and always was, unstable.

This, then, is the challenge of our manifesto – to build it on unstable ground.