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the letter - r landfied
Since we must distinguish between “that which is something” and “that which something is,” and since the former is identified with “no matter what it is is” and the latter with “not no matter what it is,” we can say that “everything is thus a milieu, a fragile link between ‘no matter what it is’ and ‘not no matter what it is.’” (62) And here we find Garcia’s critique of the thing-in-itself: “A thing is never defined en bloc. We can affirm that a thing is this or that, but that does not suffice. It is still necessary to state precisely that which is this thing.” (62) Stated differently, “something is not in itself: for that which is in the thing is not the thing, and that in which the thing is is not the thing.” (62) And here Garcia and I, facing the same evidence, draw opposite conclusions. For me, the fact that nothing can be identified with either its components or its concrete location means that the thing must be something in-itself distinct from both of these. Yet for Garcia, to be in-itself would mean to be identified with just one of these two extreme terms, and hence the thing can only be the difference between them. Garcia is equally suspicious of the classical tendency to view “unity” as a property of the thing, since in his eyes unity is too relational a property to belong to things. (65) While specific things are situated determinately with respect to other things, we are still speaking here about the thing no matter what it is, and this can be viewed only in terms of solitude, which all things share: a human being, a hand, or a chair or all equally things insofar as they are on their own, not insofar as they are one. (64) A thing is alone, and relates only to the one thing that is not another thing: world. In a striking parallel to my own argument for a partial revival of occasionalism, Garcia tells us that “the things communicate only by their solitude: it is because
everything is equally on its own in the world that things can be together, enmeshed in one another.” (67) Alone in their solitude, things all relate to world, which serves as a mediator allowing them to become mixed up in one another.
I start my answer here because 10-15 years ago there were wild claims being made about the potential impact of the digital on the visual arts. At that time many felt that all other forms would wither away before the onslaught of this new democratic art form. Seemingly, the art apocalypse
spearheaded by the digital has not been realized in part because there are two digital technologies-- which requires that we differentiate between
medium and media-- that is between making and distributing. People were worried about nothing.
Consequently, I understand digital technologies as a mode of simulation-- it's a copycat as a medium-- it reproduces the effects identified with other mediums. For example, photography becomes the photographic- with each iteration something is gained and lost. Subsequently, the digital has fallen victim to the conventions of the mediums that it seeks to simulate. In other words, where in the 70s we found all types of experimental video-- today video in the mainstream is a cheap way to make movies. Rapid prototyping has become little more than 3D printing-- while robotics, programming, interactivity are subsequently best developed in gaming.
From about a year ago: Status Anxiety: Kenny Schachter Dives into Facebook’s Art-World Trenches