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Written for 'ILLUMInations: 54th International Art Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia, editors Bice Curiger and Giovanni Carmine

(Venice: Marsilio Editori, 2011)'

RainbowsandRationalism
TheFateoftheTerrestrialManifestoofArt
RezaNegarestani [T]hedisenchantmentoftheworldunderstoodasaconsequenceoftheprocesswherebythe Enlightenmentshatteredthegreatchainofbeinganddefacedthebookoftheworldisa necessaryconsequenceofthecoruscatingpotencyofreason,andhenceaninvigoratingvectorof intellectualdiscovery,ratherthanacalamitousdiminishment.1 I.Launchyourpatronintospaceandwatchyourworldflip. Aggravatedbywar,transmutedbycapitalism,modulatedbyliberalismandmusteredbyglobalism,the twentyfirstcenturyartworldthatnebuloussitefortheconfluxofartists,artworks,curatorial processes,spectators,institutions,markets,rawmaterials,laborisdeterminedbyitscomplicated relationship,itscomplicity,withtheEarthasitsfirstandforemostpatron.Eventhelucrativepromiscuity ofcontemporaryartwithitspolitical,economicandculturalpatronstakesplaceundertheauspicesof thisuniquemonogamousrelationship.Presidingoverthemarriageisacertainineradicableconception ofterrestrialitywhichconstitutesthehorizonofallactivitiesontheplanet:Terrestrialityisgraspedasa continuumofneighboringregionsorcomplexmanifoldswhosetensionsandsynthesesfabricatewhat weknowastheearth.Asacontinuum,thisterrestrialhorizonhasatoncelocalandglobalexpressions. Whilstlocalexpressionsoftheterrestrialcontinuumsuggestvariousformsoftensions(transformative, antagonistic,accelerative,inhibitive,etc.)betweenregionalsites,theglobalexpressionarticulatesthe syntheticanduniversalaspectofthecontinuumthatconnectsandopenstheregionaltotheglobal. Whilsttheregionalhasitsdifferentordersofmagnitudecerebral,individual,social,geopolitical,and evengeologicalregionstheglobalhorizonofterrestrialitythatmarkstheultimateboundariesofsuch tensionsandtheirsynthesesisfiguredbythebodyoftheEarth.Theartworldpartakesinterrestrial synthesesthattraversethisglobalizedbody;atthesametimeitsscopeandactivitiesarealso determinedbytensionsbetweenterrestrialregionsspanningtheentiretelluriccontinuum,frombasic inorganicregionsoftheearthtobiological,cultural,sociopoliticalandeconomicregions.Itsartistic, curatorial,culturalandcommercialperspectivesshiftaccordingtoregionalglobaltensionsandtheir correspondingsyntheses(relationsbetweenregionalperspectivesandtheglobaloutsideortheopen). Themoreradicaltheseterrestrialtensionsintermsoftheirsyntheses,thebroaderthescopeoftheart world,themoreenlightenedandthemoredeepeneditsperspectives.Butasweshallsee,thispathof illuminationdoesnotfollowtheleadofplanetarymyopiasormodelsoflightingrootedinastrict monogamywiththeEarthandarestrictedconceptionofterrestriality.
1

RayBrassier,NihilUnbound:EnlightenmentandExtinction,(London:Palgrave,2007),p.xi.

TheEarthsglobalcontinuumisconstitutedofinfinitesimallyfuzzygradientsofregionaltensionswhich arepurelysynthetic:neuropsychologicaltensionsbetweentheindividualanditsoutsidethathighlight thedeprivatizedsiteofthinking;socialtensionsthatpastethealreadysyntheticpublicindividualinto thesocialfabricasasitewhereindividualactionsandthoughtshavenolongerexclusiveexpressions; economictensionsthatmeticulouslygluethegeochemicaltensionsoftheinorganicearthtothe permeableeconomiesoftheorganism,societyandterritorythroughwidespreadproduction,circulation andconsumptionofminerals,chemicalcompoundsandfuels;(post)industrialdialecticsbetweenthe attentivetriadmanlabortechnologyandtheinattentiveandcosmicallyindifferentbodyoftheEarth fromwhosebowelscultureandcivilizationaretraumaticallyconceived;andlastly,modernnations, whichdominantlyconcentratealltheaforementionedregionaltensionswithintheirtransterritorial horizons.Theearthspatronagefortodaysartistoounfaithful,itsbusinesstooshady,itssourceof fundstoountraceable,fortheartistnottoshedsomelightonherdependentrelationshipwithit. Likewise,thecontemporaryartworldisunthinkablewithoutamodelofenlightenmentcapableof illuminatingitsregionalsitesitsartists,works,nationsasgradationsofaprofoundterrestrial continuum.Butsuchafeatofenlightenmentunderstoodbothasawideningofartisticscopeanda overdueprobeintothesubterrainoftheartworldfirstrequirestheunbindingofatrulyuniversalist conceptionoftheearthinwhichtheregionalglobalcontinuumhasnoground,centerordiscrete regionalauthority,foritisdrivenbytheopen.Withintheuniversalistconceptionofterrestriality,the relationshipsbetweenregionsofthecontinuum(whethercerebral,socialornational)areunrestricted, andultimately,thepatronageoftheearthforartisnolongeramatterofguardianshiporprovisionbut oneofdeliveringart,itsvisionsandproblems,withoutanychaperoningprejudice,totheabyssaldepths oftheuniversalcontinuum. Accordingly,theuniversalistandspeculativewideningofterrestrialsynthesesopensatransfinitescope fortheartistbyilluminatingtheworldofartanditsnationsasnondiscreteyetfocalizedgradientsof thegeocosmiccontinuum,theunbounduniversalgradientinwhichonecannolongerisolateor capitalizeonanyregion(ofthought,theEarthortheUniverse)whatsoever.Sinceregionsofthe geocosmiccontinuumareallsyntheticallyinterconnectedandincomplicitywiththeglobalexpressionof thecontinuum,artisticandphilosophicalproductsofthebrainarenolongerirreproachable:Likeany otherproduct,theydonothaveanyfundamentallydiscretepresencewithintherealityofthe continuum,becausetheyarecontinuallydetermined,transformed,andrenegotiatedbythetensions andsynthesesbetweeneconomic,cultural,biologicalandeveninorganicregionalgradientsoftheglobal continuum.Consequently,thesocalledinnersanctuariesofthesenses,emotionsandintellectthe sitesofartisticcreativitymustberegardedasregionsnestedwithintheprecariousminesofAfrica, SouthAmericaandAsia,gradationallyinseparablefromthemicronationoffactoriesandillegal workshops,theamorphousrendezvouspointsoflowwages,chemicalfumesandhumantrafficking systems.Inthesamevein,theartistichavenofintuitionisapartoftheneurochemicalplasticityofthe cerebralindividuumorthenervoussystemthathasneverbeen(andshouldneverbe)withdrawnfrom everydayexplosionsandinsurgenciesinthestreetsoftheearthorthecontingentlyandindifferently distributedcosmicinorganicmaterialsthatsimultaneouslyshape,feedandtraumatizeit.Withinthe telluriccontinuum,streets,mines,militarizedtrenches,thebrainandthesocalledhomeare 2

cavernouslydugwithineachotherinamannerthatistopologicallyandcategoricallycontingentand counterintuitive.Respectively,theEarthwithitsundeservedlyprivilegedstatusandglorifiedsolar patrontheSunisalreadyexpropriatedinthenameoftheuniversalpublic,aUniverseinwhich neitherreasonnormaterialityhaveaprivatelifeoftheirownoraparticularidealnecessity.Forthis reason,thespeculativewideningoftheartworldacrossthegeocosmiccontinuum,notasadiscrete selfcenteredworldbutasasyntheticregionalgradientoftheuniversalcontinuum,marksthewedding ofuniversalenlightenmentandtheartisticvision.Atthesametime,itisanalloutuniversalistwar (ratherthanawarofnations)againstallleftoverandmutatedstrainsofplanetarymyopiathose cosmeticallyenhancedvariantsofthePtolemaictradition,capitalism,liberalismandfundamentalism. II.Togroundcontrol,wehardlyseeanyearthuphere. TherestrictedconceptionofterrestrialityalwaysrecognizestheEarthasadiscreteentitythathasthe finalword(ormoreaccurately,world)ineverything.Thisaxiomaticworldonwhichallthoughts,visions andmodesoflivingmustbegroundedisnotnecessarilysynonymouswiththeplanetEarth.Foritcanbe onesnation,theinteriorityoftheself,thepurportedintegrityoflineage,thesanctumofartistic intuitions,thesiteoftheintellectoranyhorizonwhoseedgesfoldoverontothemselvestoformaself centeredsphere,anaxiomaticresourceofitsownverity.Thosewhoarewearyofthisenvelopedworld aretoldtounburdenthemselvesbydeclaringtheEarthastheprivatepropertyoftheDivine,ormore constructively,tobuildanewEarthoutoftheresourcesathand,thatistosay,fromtheaxiomatically veritableanddiscreteEarthsofthisworld:Theirindividualselves,nations,ancestrallineages,private intuitionsandsoon.Inthisworld,opennessofscopeisalwayscircumscribed;synthesesbetween regionsaremodallyrestricted,realalternativesarediminishinginsofarassynthesesprogressively happenonthebasisofcapacityandaffordabilityofregionsandthefactthateachregioncannow isolateitsownveritableearthasthegroundofitssynthesis(i.e.openness)towardtheoutside.The earthofillusoryalternativesandrestrictedsynthesesisanearthendemicallysusceptibletothescourge offundamentalism,whichinsistsonexpandingtheDivinesfranchisetoeverycorneroftheEarthandits regions.Itisequallydazzledbythemirageofglobalopennessgeneratedbyliberalismsconfusion betweenrealalternativesbroughtaboutbytheuniversalcontinuumandaffordableoptionsbasedon regionalcapacitiesandeconomicalimperatives.Butaboveall,theworldofthediscreteearthisthe venueofcapitalismsglobalcircuitry,switchingfromoneterritorytoanother,fromonelimittothenext, fromtheearthofoneregiontoanewerEarth. Capitalismdoesnotadvocateisolatedregionsperse;indeed,itchampionsaglobalcontinuumofthe earthbutonewhosefrontierscansafelyandreliablybedeterminedatanytime.Whatcapitalism supportsissynthesisbetweenisolatedregionsanddiscreteearthssoastosimultaneouslyconformto capacitiesthatis,affordableconfinesofcerebral,socialandnationalregionsoftheEarth,and appearastheultimateemancipatoryforce:Ourbusinessistoincorporateallsecludedregionsintoa wholesomeEarth.Inordertocarryonitsplanetarytrades,capitalismmustpreventtheEarthfrom dissipatingoutofitsmanifestglobalhorizon,itsdiscreteselfcenteredsphere.Inshort,capitalismmust demarcateanddeterminetheboundariesoftheuniversalcontinuum,foronlyinaboundcontinuum canregionsbediscretelyidentified,synthesesormethodsofopennessrestricted,andregional capitalizationundertaken.Withinsucharestrictedambit,thetransitionfromtheregionaltotheglobal 3

doesnotbespeakoftherealityoftheuniversalcontinuum.Itsimplydenotesaunifiedconceptofthe selfcentredEarththegroundcontroloftheartistthatpreventsherfromsightingtheuniversalist pictureofherartworldwhich,liketheEarth,isnottheworldbutanincreasinglyblurredgradientofthe unboundcontinuum,ininfinitesimalcomplicitieswithotherregionalspheres. Thepossibilityofwideningartisticscopebywrestinganunbounduniversalcontinuumfromthecurrent sponsorsofplanetarymyopiarestsuponasynthetictransfigurationoftheartist:Theartistbecomesa newparticipantinthespeculativeprojectofenlightenment,alongsidescienceandphilosophy.Synthetic illuminationbeginswithmodernsciencesheadlongdiveintothechasm:Modernscienceembracesonly onenecessity,thenecessityofanunbounduniversalcontinuumabsolutelyfreefromthenecessityofits particularelementsnomatterwhoorwhattheyare.Itonlyacknowledgesareasonthatdoesnot emanatefromtheocularsubjecttotheworld,butfollowstheimpersonalcourseofagenericlight.In short,modernscienceimpersonallyheraldsaboundlessuniversalcontinuumandindoingso,it contributestotheabolitionofprivatized,isolationistregionsoftheworldinthenameofapublicabyss. Disenthralledbytheabyssaluniverseintroducedbymodernscience,philosophysystematically synthesizesalluniversallyexpropriatedregionsoftheopenintoonegradient.Accordingly,it approximatesthescopeoftheuniversalsynthesisforthoughtasaunifiedgradientsynthesizedby alternativeandunrestrictedmodesofopennessdrawnbetweenregionsbytheuniversallineof synthesisorgenericlightoftheopenbetweenthefieldsofculture,politics,economy,geology, mathematics,etc.Thehighlightingfunctionofsyntheticilluminationreachesitsgreatestintensitywhen artbeginstocolorthegradientsuncoveredbymodernscienceandsyntheticallyapproximatedby philosophy.Theartistschromaticilluminationoftheuniversalcontinuumnotaccordingtothewillof regions(earthlysponsors,intellectualguardians,andemotionallysanctionedmuses)butaccordingto thewilloftheopenthisistheonlysweepinglyrevolutionary,realistic(byanymeasureorinanysense) andresponsibleartisticengagementforbringingouttherealityofregions/nationsColortherainbows oftheunbounduniverseandbringingtheirregionsintofocusasitsspectra.Farfromrestrictingthe courseoflighttoitsownregionorbecomingthestellarsourceofit,artisticilluminationsshouldmake regionsnotonlytheregionsoftheartworldbutalsoofthoughts,streetsandnationschromatically standoutwithoutanyselfimposeddistortionormyopia,butintheirreal,contingentandunrestricted relationshipswiththeuniversalchasm.Thisiswhyeventhecomplexportrayaloftheartistasa multifacetedrefractorwhobendsregionalbeamsoflightthroughvariousprocessesofartistic productionsoastoconvergethemuponherworkdoesnotsatisfactorilypresentthesyntheticfigureof theartistastheonewhoworksthroughandwithinthegenericlightoftheuniverse.Inthislatterfigure, theartistbringsoutthecontinuityofallnationswiththeunboundcontinuumoftheabyss,andthereby chromaticallyhighlightsallunrestrictedsynthesesandcomplicitiesbetweenregionsbetweenher world,thesubterraneanworkingsofmines,theartworld,factories,theworldofherpatron, insurgenciesinthestreets,lowwages,capitalism,fundamentalism,liberalism,oil,water,Dubaisand Venicesancientandfuture.2

Thesyntheticreintegrationoftheartistindicates,morethanever,theexigencyofartsorganizationssuchas theUKsUrbanomicthatembraceunforeseeablesynthesesbetweenphilosophersandartistswithinvistas
2

III.Backtocoloringrainbowsandmakinginfinitebows.
[A]lldualitiesdisappear,acontinuumislookedfor,andtheculturalwebisunderstoodasacomplex topologicalspacewhereallsortsofbreaks/suturesofcontinuitygiverisetothemostinterestingartistic, philosophicalandscientificexpressionsoftheepoch.3

Coloringrainbowsisnofrivoloustask;itisnotamatterofglorifiedwhimsicalitybutofutmost rationality.Thesynthetictransfigurationoftheartistasthetinterofuniversalcontinuumcalls,firstof all,foradistinctionbetweenthecentersanctifyinghalosofthegloryandthefloatinguniversalbridges oftherainbow.Gloriesareproducedbylightreflectedbacktowarditssourcebyacloudofuniformly sizeddropletsinsuchawaythattheobserversshadow(Brockenspectre)appearsatthecenterofthe chromatichalooftheglory.Buttherationalistlightoftheuniversalcontinuumisdestituteofany singularilluminatingsource.Evenstarsaremerelyglorifiedregions;fortheearthstheymonopolize, theyaretransientobstaclestouniversalillumination,orpreciselyspeaking,sourcesofplanetary obsessions.Thelightofuniversalcontinuumanditsunboundsynthesisisneitherdiurnalnornocturnal, foritisshackledneithertostellarluminancenortoplanetarydusk.Itisavagueandgeneralizedlight radicallyindifferenttodayandnight;onethat,asTintorettodepicts,breaksandentersofitsownaccord fromasymmetricalcracksitopensinthehorizon,orlightsitcontingentlyimprovisesfromregional resourcesforinstance,anoillampthatoutshinesthesaints.Butfreeevenfromthedivinological sourceofTintorettoslighting,thesyntheticlightoftheuniversalcontinuumrelinquishesallprivileges andprivationsbytransplantingtheuniversalintotheregionalandincitingmodallyunrestricted syntheseswhichdrive(treiben)theregiontowardtheopen.Withintheopencontinuum,the divinologicalinfinity,likeanyotherorderofinfinity,findsaregionalandcontingentlypositedstatusand forthisreason,likeanyotherregionalregister,itisexteriorizedbythepositiveforceofopennessits necessityisrevokedbyuniversalcontingency.Unlikeglories,whicharecircularlyformedbythe reflectionoflightbacktowarditssource,thegeneralizedlightoftheopenisalientoanysourceoflight thatreasoncouldbetracedbackto.Itpervadesanyobstructionagainstsynthesesoftheuniversallight anddeflectsthecentralityofshadowsofregionalsubjects(observers,thinkers,tinters,creators)tothe universalcontinuumanditsgradients.Therefore,thesyntheticlightoftheopendoesnotallow universalringstoradiallyexpandaroundtheshadowoftheregionalsubject. Rainbowsglorifyneitherthesubjectnoranyregionoftheuniverse.Asthegenericlightoftheuniversal continuumtraversesregionalhorizonseachadropletoracrystallizedparticleopentolightitenters them.Uponenteringaregionalhorizon,thelightrefracts,bringingintotheequationtheinternal conditionsoftheregion.Oncethelightreachestheendofthehorizon(thebackofthedroplet),it reflectsback.Asthelightdepartstheregionaldroplet,itchangesdirectiononceagain,indicatinga departurefromtheregionalconditions(thecompositionofthedroplet)intotheopen,andaccordingly, thecontinuationofthissyntheticilluminationforotherregions.Thisfreedomofdeparturetotheopen thewayoutilluminatedintheregionalspherebythelightoftheuniversalsynthesis,chromatically
openedupbyscientists,atthesametimeprobingbothterritorialandintellectualregionsforindividualand collectiveentitieswhoseheterogeneitiescreatenewtopologiesoftensionandsynthesis. 3 FernandoZalamea,PeirceandLatinAmericanRazonabilidad:ForerunnersofTransmodernity,inEuropean JournalofPragmatismandAmericanPhilosophy,Vol.1,(2009),p.120.

revealstheunboundcontinuityoftheregionalenclosurewiththeopen,settinghighlightedpathsfora universalrevolution:thatis,thepossibilityofunrestrictedsynthesesbetweenregionalhorizonsofthe universe,reasonasanantigloryandtherationalopportunityofrecognizingtheopenasanonglorious continuumthatisfreeofthecentralityofitsregions. Assitesofuniversalrevolutions,rainbowsbecomethepolychromaticthatistosay,spectrallyand panoramicallyhighlightedopenembracesoftheuniversalsynthesisbetweenallregionsoftheworld. Forthisreason,itisimportantthattheartistdoesnottreatrainbowsgloriously.Notonlydoesthewave ofuniversalsynthesisbreakandenteronitsown,italsofollowsthespecificconditionssetbyeach regionornationoftheuniverse.Whatisimportantinpursuingrainbowsisthattheopenreflectsonto itsuniversalcontinuumthroughitsregionalspheresinmorethanoneway.Inotherwords,opennessis notonlytheexpressionofboundlessnessbutalsotheexpressionofmodalfreedomthattheuniversal synthesistowardtheopentakesplaceintheregionalhorizoninmorethanoneway.Therefore,the regionsoftheworldcanbeopenedontoeachotherinmodesuntrammeledbyanyregionalnecessity, nationalrestrictionormethodologicalprejudice.Thegenericlightoftheuniversalsynthesisisreflected intheregionalspherenotonceortwice,butinfinitely;andinbeingsoreflected,itcreatesrainbowsof higherorders,rainbowswithinfinitebows.Rainbowscreatedbysecondandthirdreflectionsoflightina singledroplet(viz.rainbowswithtwoandthreebows)arerareinnature,asthelightbeginstogrow dimmerandloseitsintensityandbecomesinvisibletotheobserver.However,itissaidthatFrench physicistFlixBillet(18081882)observedarainbowofthenineteenthorderwithoverlappingand separatebows,bowswithdifferentangularsizesandeccentricimbricationsfanningoutinalldirections. FollowingBillet,whocalledthisilluminatedtwirlingblossomofcontinuatherose(rosedesarcsenciel), themodallyunboundreflectionoftheuniversallightwithineachandeveryregionalhorizoncreates hyperroses. Hyperrosesaretheasymptoticexpressionsofboththeboundlessuniversalcontinuumandthefreedom ofitslineofsynthesis,itslight.Theygrowinsilentindifferencetoregionalmyopiasor,ashistorianCarl BenjaminBoyernotedregardingthreearcedrainbows,theygrowwherenoonelooksforthemorsees. Theartistenlightenedbythesyntheticlightoftheopen,forthisreason,isthehunterofroseseven beforebeingthechromatichighlighterofuniversalrainbows.Movedbyanunanchoredearth, committedtothepathofantigloriesanddevotedtothegardenofhyperroses,theuniversalistartist knowsthatthegenericlightoftheopenanditslineofsynthesiscanbeneitherintensifiednorseparated fromitsuniversalbackdrop.Suchattemptstointensifythegenericuniversallightorseparateitare preludestoglorification.Butthenhowisitpossibletohunthyperrosesandcolortheirsprawling synthesesastheexpressionofanunboundandfreeuniverseiftheartistcannotseethesyntheticbows thatgrowaroundher?HereTintorettostechniqueforcreatingintenseandcondensedlightswhichdo notgrowdiminregionalspheresshouldbeadoptedasarationalmodelofparamountimportance. Drawinguponatheoryoflightderivedmorefromgeneralchemistry(medievaltheoriesofratio, concoctionandquantityofqualities)andtheturbulentlatescholastictheologythanatheoryofoptics, Tintorettoattainedanintensesyntheticilluminationthroughanemphasisontheclosureoftheregional backgroundandtheelementsofthescene.Onlywhenshadowsofregionalelementsarepainted darker,whenregionalperspectivesbecomeextremelyfocused,whentheratioofregionalclosureto universalopennessincreases,isthegenericlightoftheopenaccentuated,sothatitcanbegintoirrigate 6

hyperroses.Inordertoseethehyperrosesofthegenericlight,itisimperativetoadoptaterminally focusedvisionwithregardtoregionsoftheuniverse,andtorealizethetrueexpressionoftheregional (whetheritistherealityofanartworkornations)asaclosurethatshouldbebothintegrallyand differentiallyhighlighted.Itisthejustproportionofclosurewithregardtotheoutsidethatbringsout andintensifiesthewilloftheopenanditsunboundsyntheses. Themoreintegraltheartistsregionalsubjectivity,themoreintensethelightofuniversalsynthesis throughtheregionalenclosure,andthehigherordertherainbowthathighlightsthepathsofthatregion totheopentherosetwistsforth.

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