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Which clippings match 'Phenomena' keyword pg.1 of 2
01 MARCH 2013

Interpretation is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly and stifling

"Interpretation in our own time, however, is even more complex. For the contemporary zeal for the project of interpretation is often prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text (which may conceal an aggression), but by an open aggressiveness, an overt contempt for appearances. The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs 'behind' the text, to find a sub–text which is the true one. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud's phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning –the latent content –beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) –all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling."

(Susan Sontag, 1966)

Susan Sontag (1966). "Against Interpretation: And Other Essays". Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.


1966 • aggressiveness • appearance • behind the text • contempt for appearances • cowardly • dead past • destroy • doctrine • dreamsexcavationhermeneuticshistorical interpretation • historical view • human consciousness • impertinent • individual lives • interpretationinterpretation of signsKarl Marx • latent content • liberating actmanifest contentmeaning • neurotic symptoms • observable phenomena • phenomenaphenomenon • philosophy and interpretation • reactionary • revising • revisionism • revolutions • Sigmund Freud • slips of the tongue • social events • stifling • subtext • Susan Sontag • textstheories of interpretation • transvaluing • troublesome text • true meaning • wars • women in cultural theorywork of art


Simon Perkins
30 JUNE 2012

Internet Cafés: hybrids involving analogue and digital, virtual and real

"Terms like 'Internet café' or 'cybercafé' bring us right back to the 90s along with phrases like 'web page' or 'digital divide', which were invented to describe new hybrids involving analog and digital, virtual and real as well as the present and near future.

It's not that these terms have grown obsolete. It's rather that these 20th–century phenomena they once described have outgrown their terminology. They were born as metaphors, but over time turned into idioms, and their analog parts were the first [to] lose their original meanings. People who did not witness the emergence of the web do not fully understand why browser content is still called a 'page'. It's has also become unclear what public internet access facilities have in common with cafés, yet we continue calling them 'internet cafés' or 'cybercafés'."

(Olia Lialina, 2012–01–10)




1990s20th century20th century phenomenaanalogue and digitalarchaeology • Bart Plantenga • browser content • cafecafescyber archaeology • cybercafe • cybercafes • cyberculture • Danja Vasiliev • digital archaeologydigital culturedigital divideDragan Espenschiedemergence of the web • Florian Cramer • Goethe Institute • Goethe-Instituthistoryhome pagehybrid formidiomInternetinternet archaeology • internet cafe • internet cafes • inventionJODI (art collective) • Leslie Robbins • metaphor • near future • new cosmopolitanism • new hybrids • obsolescenceOlia Lialina • original meaning • outgrownpage metaphorphenomenaphenomenonPiet Zwart Institute • Piet Zwart Institute Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam University • public internet access • Renee Turner • Rotterdam • Rotterdam University • terminologythe pastvirtual and realwebweb pages • Wendelien van Oldenborgh • Willem de Kooning Academy • www


Simon Perkins
07 JANUARY 2012

The Revival of Psychogeography

"Psychogeography is hot. Guy Debord, founding member of Situationist International and the man who coined the term in 1955, defined the phenomenon as 'the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals'. In fact, psychogeography is the art of strolling, or just about anything that gets pedestrians off their predictable paths and leads them to a new awareness of the urban landscape. Recently we've seen a remarkable psychogeographic revival driven by several artistic urban projects and smartphone applications."

(Jeroen Beekmans, 4 January 2012, The Pop–Up City)



1955 • Adam Greenfield • Android appsappsart • art of strolling • artistic urban project • augmented reality • augmented sound • awarenesscitydaily routinederivedrift • Emilie Giles • encountersenvironmentescapeexploration • exploring the city • flaneur • forgotten places • geographical environment • Guy Debord • Inception app • Ingrid Burrington • interactive encounters • iPhoneiPhone app • iPhone apps • iPod Touch • Loneliness Map • lonely individuals • Lost London • mapmapping • missed connections • new technologiesperception of realityperformativityphenomena • Pratt Manhattan Gallery • predictable cities • psychogeographic experiences • psychogeographic explorations • psychogeographypublic spacerealityroute • Serendipitor • serendipitySituationist International • smartphone applications • smartphone apps • strollersurprisetechnology • unpredictable paths • urban landscapeurban mappingurban planningyou are here


Simon Perkins
27 NOVEMBER 2011

Bioglyphs: Generating images in collaboration with nature's events

"Reconstructive postmodernism proposes an alternative to a mechanistic interpretation of the world. The mechanistic model, which assumes that the world consists of discrete objects, has led to a 'disenchanted' interpretation of nature. In contrast to this objectification, the reconstructive model interprets nature as being primarily constituted of interacting events.

Since the 1960s ecological artists have developed strategies of representing this reenchanted view of nature through its phenomena or events. A number of these artists have sought to use photography to represent this view. However when such works are presented in photographic form I argue that the use of a camera tends to objectify the event.

In order to avoid the objectifying tendency of photography a number of contemporary artists have developed photographic methods of image–making which dispense with the camera. Bioglyphs, the creative practice of this current research, have been linked to the work of this group because of a shared approach to the use of photographic materials. However, if we assess the role of icon and index within photography, we can see that this approach may not always be sympathetic to the project of these artists.

Three key outcomes are identified. The first is the clarification of the concepts icon and index as applied to photography. Photographic images are shown to be primarily iconic rather than indexical. The thesis argues that iconic images tend to objectify the world whereas indexical images tend to represent the world as being constituted by events. Iconic photographic images therefore contribute to a disenchanted view of the world.

The second is that this reassessment of icon and index highlights a clear distinction between bioglyphs and most of the other camera–less images with which they are associated. In contrast to the iconicity of camera–less photographs bioglyphs are shown to be radically indexical. The third outcome is to show that, methodologically and interpretationally, bioglyphs have more affiliation with other artworks that are primarily indexical. This realignment of bioglyphs with other indexical art proposes a new category of art practice. This new category of indexical art, which foregrounds nature's events, suggests a method of art practice that is more supportive of reconstructive postmodern ideas."

(Daro Montag, 2000)

Montag, D. "Bioglyphs: generating images in collaboration with nature's events". PhD, University of Hertfordshire, 2000.


art practice • bioglyph • camera-less • camera-less images • contemporary artcreative practice • disenchanted • ecological artists • icon • icon and index • iconic photographic images • iconicity • image making • image-making • index • indexical • indexical art • indexical images • interacting events • interpretation of nature • mechanistic interpretations • mechanistic modelnature • objectification • objectify • objectify the event • objectifying tendency • objectifying tendency of photography • phenomena • photographic form • photographic images • photographic materials • photographic methods • photographyreconstructive model • reconstructive postmodernism • theoretical contextthesisUniversity of Hertfordshireview of nature


Simon Perkins
30 OCTOBER 2011

Phenomena we confront are always richer than the abstractions we use to explain them

"The realization that the phenomena we confront are always richer than the abstractions we use to explain them is central to a Goethean approach. This realization is the expression of a two–fold awareness or sensitivity that Goethe points to with his expression 'delicate empiricism' (Goethe, 1829, in Miller, 1995, p. 307). First, we experience a phenomenon (a mouse, a wooded swamp, a range of blue hills in the distance, or the clouds moving across the sky) as a kind of fullness that calls forth wonder, curiosity, questioning. We want to get to know it better, or as Goethe states it radically, 'become utterly identical with it' (ibid.). This is empiricism, because we orient all our striving around the phenomena themselves. A phenomenon is what meets the eye but we also experience it is as something more, as a kind of surface that is pregnant with a depth we may be able to plumb. But we realize that we will not fathom these depths with models and theories, which more likely than not will lead us away from the phenomenon itself."

(Craig Holdrege, 2005)

Craig Holdrege Summer 2005, 8.1. 'Doing Goethean Science' Janus Head.


abstract modelsabstractionabstractionsacademic journal • delicate empiricism • enquiry • Goethe • Goethean approach • Goethean methodology • Goethean science • Johann Wolfgang von Goethephenomenaphenomenologyphenomenonresearchtheoretical reflectiontheories


Simon Perkins

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