Bern Graduate School of the Arts / March 3-4 2016
Paulo de Assis
From Event to Inscription to Event. On Artistic Research and its Methods.
In Slavoj Žižek’s definition, an event is “the effect that seems to exceed its causes” and the space of an event “is that which opens up by the gap that separates an effect from its causes”. (Žižek 2014: 3). An event seems, therefore, to have the power to transcend its particular instant of appearance, its context of emergence, its historical situatedness. Concretely bound to a here-and-now, it points to a time-space “out of joint” (Hamlet), out of ordinary time, out of ordinary space — to Nietzsche’s dimension of the Untimely (cf. Nietzsche 1997). In the arts, events are generated, transmitted, communicated, and exposed through (verbal or non-verbal) inscriptions, complex symbolic systems of presentation and representation, defining particular spaces of graphematicity (Derrida). Inscriptions are engravings, material traces, which are “produced, articulated, [connected] and disconnected, (…) placed, displaced, and replaced” (Rheinberger 1997: 3). Being material things, inscriptions might exist in a non-human universe, and they might have impact on non-human elements, but their fundamental, artistic clamour is to induce an event, to impinge on those humans experiencing them, to affect those who come in sensuous contact with them. Today, in a time when more than ever before, all possible and innumerable inscriptions (and systems of inscriptions) are instantly available, the question is “What to do with it?” In this lecture I will discuss and present some possible methods for artistic research in relation to this question, from very simple replies, to highly elaborated, experimental constructions.