No. 23 (2020): Issue No. 23, October 2020 – Main Topic: How to do Things with Speculative Pragmatism: Anthropocene, Aesthetics, Art

Provisional Salta Ensemble, Life/NonLife (Amsterdam/Riga), colague, 2012.

exts gathered in this issue are the first part of the How to do things with speculative pragmatism double themed issue of AM: Journal of Art and Media Studies. What things do we want to do with this double issue? Firstly, we wanted to try to gather academics, theoreticians, artists, and those who complicate boundaries between disciplinary regimes, from both within Serbia and the rest of the world, and who engage in any way with the work of Brian Massumi and Erin Manning just for the sake of seeing what can happen. What will happen remains to be seen, but we hope the authors, their texts, and ideas will enter into the unexpected processes of becoming and create new relations however impermanent. Secondly, and more academically, we wanted to address the dearth of academic engagement with Massumi’s and Manning’s work. As of the writing this introduction to issue number 23, in July 2020, there are no edited volumes or issues of other journals dealing with their books and texts. Speculative pragmatism remains to be critically, theoretico-practically, addressed and this double issue aspires to be the first small step in that direction.

Those familiar with Massumi’s and Manning’s conceptual apparatus and theoretical platform will object that we performed violence upon deciding not only to separate issues according to academic fields but to consider separate academic and non-academic fields at all. Thus, this issue deals with art, aesthetics, and the Anthropocene, while issue number 24 concerns itself with pedagogy, philosophy, and politics. Whoever has even chanced upon any of Massumi’s and Manning’s texts will know that aesthetics and politics are inseparable, that they are two aspects of a single event. The same can be said of other “fields”. So, in response to the (so far imaginary) accusation that to separate the fields is exactly what we are not supposed to do, we can say: that is true. However, the difference itself forces us to do so and without posing disciplinary identity exactly. The texts themselves do not yield to such disciplinary identitarianism easily either, as texts in this and the next issue testify. However, the force of academic custom obliges us to follow certain rules, hence the decision to roughly define certain disciplinary fields. Hopefully the text themselves will redeem us in that regard.

This issue, then, deals with art, aesthetics, and the Anthropocene. Many of the authors are artists themselves, and we are happy to have had the opportunity to read their texts wherein they attempt to produce concepts from their own practices and put their practices in dialogue with speculative pragmatism and other theories and philosophies. Louisa Bufardeci in her text “Tacktical Aesthetics: A propositional aesthetic language starting from philosophies of relationality” presents what she calls “partial declarations” about art based on Indigenous and feminist philosophies of relationality as well as on idea of resingularisation. Bufardeci ends the text open-endedly, asking how one can develop artistic practice from tacktical aesthetics. Valéria Bonafé and Rogério Costa in “Sounds, Memories and Affects: Double Capture in a Relational Artistic Experience” present and discuss the nos{entre}nós project, which stems from an artistic collaboration between them. They pay particular attention to concepts like zone of indiscernibilitydisjunctive synthesis and double capture. The article also deals specifically with the creative processes involved in producing the first artistic work of this collaborative project, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Jasna Jovićević in her “Composing the Actual: Brainwave Sonification as Materialized Intensity of Virtual Relations” theorizes her experimental music performance “I Sit and Worry About Her” that explores the function of large-scale cortical networks and application of EEG, monitoring the brainwaves in the making and perceiving of music. The project aims at understanding the activity of the brain and its electric impulses as an affect or intensity of virtual relations. Jovićević wonders whether it is possible to actualize the virtual open-social identity, even while involved in a social collaborative interaction. Eldritch Priest in “Melodies, Moods, and The Zone as a Hole” draws on his zonal meanderings and a speculative-pragmatic form of acoustic ecology to develop a “fabulation that takes a stroll through a forgotten cemetery, an improvised melody played beneath a secret radar array, and a daydream had in a dilapidated post office as expressive of a thought experiment whose meaningful result is more a fictional achievement than a factual reckoning”. Ana Ramos in “Enter the Event: How is Immanent Participation?” takes the body as a “body-worlding” and then articulates the concepts affective immersion and incorporeal materiality in order to think affect embodiment, and embodiment itself. The paper argues for a materiality real but abstract that has been called “incorporeal”. Corine van Emmerik in “Speculative Pragmatism and Minor Practices in Palestine: The Art of Living and the Cultivation of Futures” considers the aesthetic-political dimension in Palestine and in particular looks at possible Palestinian futures that emerge from it. By taking the example of a women’s embroidery co-operative in the West Bank, van Emmerik demonstrates that speculative pragmatism enables us to attend to the moreness in minor practices, aesthetics, and life itself. 

The Anthropocene series of texts deals with the questions of environment, ecology, and the relations between humans and nonhumans in art and outside it. Andrija Filipović in “How to do things in the Plasticene: Ontopolitics of plastics in Arendt, Barthes, and Massumi” develops three models for understanding plastic in the Plasticene epoch through readings of Arendt, Barthes, and Massumi. In the Massumian model, plastic is affective; it is a relational body in the process of becoming, simultaneously intensive and multiple in its eventfulness, posing a problem of de-linking other bodies from it. Andrew Goodman in “Wilding Consciousness: Towards a Speculatively Tentacular Thinking-With” writes about a tentacular life that is relational and sticky, a moving-creating-living-with and that is at heart sympoietic and entangled. Wilding, as a speculative pragmatic and tentacular practice, involves thinking with the world in ecological terms and involves a tactic of embracing an entangled and multi-storied approach to thinking. David Lombard in “Toward a Speculative-Pragmatic Sublime: A Narratological Analysis of the Toxic Sublime and the Unnarrated in Contemporary U.S. Literature” provides a close narratological and comparative analysis of Rachel Carson’s short story “A Fable for Tomorrow” (1962) and Susanne Antonetta’s memoir Body Toxic: An Environmental Memoir (2001), which both highlight the pragmatic and ecocritical potential of literature as a source of cultural responses to the Anthropocene challenge. 

Issue Editors

Andrija Filipović and Marija Bulatović


On the cover: Provisional Salta Ensemble, Life/NonLife (Amsterdam/Riga), colleague, 2012.

Published: 15.10.2020