We cannot reach the unknown as we pursue the known. — Jean Klein
To become full, become hollow. —Lao TzeNavigation
… COMMUNICATION, with words and images, only echoes itself. My sense of what green is CANNOT be yours, and yet the constant shortcuts, approximations, and bets point to the ever-present need for cohesion and its associated railings.
Moreover, IF there is any original thought/assessment at all, these are probably as solitary as they are unique. Hence the concept of non-images and non-words, and this school.
Our “fullness” and busyness belies a systematic cover-up: as in a sleight of hand, we are blinded by speed and the surplus of images and sounds. Marton’s lifetime of teaching and working in media leads him now towards a search for “non-images” & “non-media.” The School of No Media represents a last-gasp-effort toward the elusive goal of standing outside a prescribed universe, surrounded by too many assumptions.Read More
This school which is no school… Education is bound to bring us to a precipice where we need to stand, lost. If there’s something we must learn before it is too late, it has much more to do with no-thing than with some thing. Do we have room for more than ourselves, is there room outside our inflated sense of knowledge? Paradoxically, this particular vertigo is essential to our survival. The myths of learning and understanding may need to be left behind.Read More
1. When we believe our eyes (and ears), all we do is verify what has been stored in our cataloged universe, and end up knowing only what we know & recognize. 2. Every age has its icons: photographers freeze that moment, cinematographers capture that movement. The traces of those fetishistic rituals are revered in museums, theaters and online. 3. Picture-perfect… Captive audiences…Read More
Pseudo-Urgency-stop-Media Omnipresence-stop-Currency Engulfing Independence-stop-Colonization Secured-stop-Audience Consumes Molds-stop-Mimicry of Stale Themes-STOP-PRETENSE-STOP • We are to be consumed, but in other ways. “Non-media” is what air is to the flying fish as it escapes mortal danger: an existential exploration & revelation. Our tools to save lives – silence (occasionally vociferous), slowness, kindness, and time.Read More
The clamor is everywhere: BE SOMEBODY!… but those efforts are illusory. Beyond our names and our affiliations lies the same eternal nobody that we were when we were born – and that we will be when we die. What surrounds us – all the stuff, the concepts… – blinds us and entraps us into a fortress, a coffin. These facts, though, do not constitute any reason to become pessimistic, merely realistic. And freer.Read More
Beyond the MonkeySee/MonkeyDo Paradigm! Well-known concepts and categories, and the institutions that support them, provide
us more with what I would call an “eduCUSHION” than with an exacting education.
We are amused by how easily cats can be distracted by a few dangling threads, but similarly, just because we recognize some pattern around us, we claim some major victory […]
Without considering what we are furthering, what gets duplicated becomes a form of fetishism and pollution. We love to perform, to present what is primarily acrobatics & technique…. overall just ready-made ideas, what one calls in French, “des idées toutes faites.” Thinking is always a lonely activity, EACH thought singular, all by itself.Read More
We constantly escape into our surroundings as potential distractions await their turn; most of our lives are invested into NOT being present. Our specialty is to fragment and distance a moment that will never appear again except as a reproduction of images and sounds. All is repeatedly lost. Are we able to perceive time and face how ephemeral our lives are? Can media help us be more anchored into our lives? [Fragment from a longer text available upon request]Read More
Each word is so full of itself; it assumes we should live by its side, but words, in creating their self-referential universe, only have the authority of other words. To escape our frailty, we invest them with power and soon, while blocking most of our senses, they become life-companions. To say something against words is indeed grotesque but after Rimbaud and Gauguin’s cultural departures – and prior to my own death – these words of warning have become necessary.Read More
Culture functions like a cult through which we live out our beliefs and celebrate (and inflate) ourselve. As much as “natural signs” such as thunder and fever will persist through time, above all we demand interpretations. We just don’t understand, and assuming we should, turn to specialists – “meaning” now stands for what escapes us; the more esoteric, the more we crave for those answers. Within the digital realm of 0011010s, nothingness could have been accounted for…Read More
We juggle words, sometimes with much prowess, but the uniqueness and aloneness of each experience will remain buried within us, intransmissible. Instead of living an unfiltered reality, we prefer to hide in the shadow of words and concepts that belong to another time, and seek transcendence at any cost. It would have been easier to participate in the main game, but at what price? The sixth mass extinction has already started.Read More
...that story is not over 'cause we are all still naked.
A belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light. — Kafka
The essence of normalcy is the refusal of reality. — Ernst Becker
Technology… the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it. — Max Frisch
They have eyes but cannot see. — Tehilim
It’s about time that we encounter dead-ends: ignoring the imminent oblivion that awaits us all, we live as if tomorrow did not exist.
The fact that experience is not transmissible compounds all of our mistakes and our planet steadily falls apart. Filled with wishful thinking, we continue to believe. Nothing is a surprise anymore!
What we know strangles us: reality is off limits and immediacy has gone. Our universe is built up to the extent that alienation, separation, isolation – and for some of us, exile – have become the very fabric of our existence, the only turf we inhabit.
Like some kind of tautological monstrosity, we are so full of ourselves, we have become the victims of our own centrality; centrality and normalcy, two of our major hoaxes.
As early as possible in our lives, the self-serving educational system sets up the paradigm that posits that words stand for things, and that the more we learn, the more we will know.
Knowledge is the opposite of stupidity and that’s all there is to it. What to know, what it is to know… these key questions are not to be addressed.
As humanizing as its diverse ramifications may be, culture primarily mirrors, glorifies and perpetuates the existing value system. We love what we love because we are reflected in it.
Doing something, anything, has to be better than doing nothing; since we cannot imagine anything else, we would rather keep everything in place.
Old wine, new bottles. It is official: we only foster predictability and redundancy. The very same elements that were meant to liberate us – words, concepts, and media – regurgitate “what-is-known” into worn-out concepts. Being lost is a long lost art!
Through its pervasiveness, education has us assume that most of what we do is absolutely natural: the central process of naming ourselves and whatever surrounds us ignores its inherent violence.
We are caught up in a monkey-see-monkey-do cycle, bound to repeat itself ad infinitum.
Jon Kabat-Zinn’s vital question, “Is there life before death?” should remain central.
Images and words keeps us isolated in a form of mass solitary confinement, exchanging looks and commenting on what has already been thought, said and lived.
It is conceivable that after the fluid wisdom of the Pre-Socratic thinkers and the Taoists, the cycle that equated knowledge/culture as being fixed and separate from living may, at long last, have come to an end.
Our digital realm, like a form of contemporary Ying/Yang dialectic, should constantly remind us of the relevance of the zeros (the void) – next to the ones – but with our awaiting what-is-just-around-the-corner, unbalanced, we lean irresistibly towards a future, and in searching for solutions, may create more problems.
When all has been said and done, we seek a particular silence. When the noise has ceased.
The floor below us has dropped a long time ago, we just have been too busy to notice what lies beyond “the stuff.”
1. Knowing what we know, we know nothing: we believe our eyes (and ears, and words) but they are too busy verifying what has been stored in our cataloged universe.
The Unlearning Specialist at the school is Pier Marton. After teaching media for more than thirty years at major U.S. universities, PM had just “the right brain surgery” – cf. below – to have now the urgent need to teach unlearning, and to focus on key blind spots: what is NOT being taught and NOT being perceived. We may start with media and the visible, but extend quickly to our “core concepts” – the source of our permanent distractions.
The arrogance of normalcy. — PM
PM has lectured with his work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Carnegie Museum. Besides those museum collections, his work is also collected by Paris Beaubourg’s museum, Canada’s National Gallery of Art, and the Mémorial de la Shoah. While his many peregrinations made him appreciate Artaud, Daumal, Grotowski, Jarry, Michaux, Gilbert-Lecomte, Porchia, Beckett, Voronca and many others,* his university teaching, and his “bleeding for art” (in his own work and in collaboration with Nitsch), have all prepared him to be fully receptive of the vacuum that awaited him as, following a brain hemorrhage, he spent three weeks in intensive care. Upon his release, he could not not perceive “the arrogance of normalcy”; most human activity, short of the instinct to care, had become absolutely arbitrary.
* like Álvarez, Anders, Barthes, Baudrillard, Berger, Borges, Brecht, Bresson, Cage, Larry David, Debord, Thich Nhat Hahn, Ivan Illich, Le Clézio, Marker, Lévinas, Melville (Bartleby), Morin, Naess, A.S. Neill, Rossellini, Rimbaud, Tarkovski, Tati, Turrell, U.G. and Watts.
In the tradition of Abraham, the iconoclast… Pier Marton. — Dr. Sander Gilman, American Cultural & Literary Historian PM rakes the virtual screens and the tablets of our hypocrisies with the sharp claws of the avenging angel. — Aribert Munzner, Artist/Dean Emeritus Glad you think the same… — Dr. Frans de Waal, Primatologist/Ethologist The John Cage of the classroom. — Ann Hirsch, Artist Intelligence, patience and kindness, an unmatched passion as an educator. — Aaron Duffy, Artist/Director I have never met anyone who was born to teach as Pier is. — Paola Laterza, Artist/Educator
Individual identity, individual healing, individual transcendence are his subjects. — John Russell, The New York Times Nightmares, he insists can only be dreamed by a conscious mind. — Douglas Blau, Flash Art & Arts Magazine
Sometimes a little brain damage can help. — George Carlin
If only this were only a matter of aligning words or arguments the proper way… Rather, it is a matter of a knowLEDGE, in the flesh.
2. Every age has its icons: photographers freeze that moment, cinematographers capture that movement. The traces of those fetishistic rituals are revered in museums, theaters and online. Media has already transformed society; can visual artists, besides “doing it their way,” provide more than an ever expanding sensory massage?
An entire mythology is stored within our language. – Wittgenstein
Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned. — Mark Twain
The only knowledge which is really alive is the one that expresses itself at its kindling point, bringing about its own destruction. — Dostoevsky
a «HOLE» within reality, like life passing, fleeting, evanescent, impossible to fix and retain. — Tadeusz Kantor
Yes, more words here again… but it is to escape them!
After a lifetime of having surrounded ourselves with arbitrary concepts that we now take for granted, we need to pierce our bubble to get, as soon as possible, to a constant state of bewildered incredulity.
One of the founders of Surrealism wrote in 1924, “Knock-knock. Who’s there? Ah good, let the infinite in.”
A cold shower does more than to freshen us up, it shakes us up. Yet, to shatter illusions all at once would be impossible; to reach anywhere we can only chip away one crack at a time, and have to be patient, with a willingness to be bored – mountains owe so much to the valleys!
Along with intense “blindspotting” – locating the blind-spots – a particular useful technique involves a form of sustained implosion (as in Lumière’s “L’arroseur arrosé“).
What to trust? Without having recourse to drugs, we may require what Rimbaud pleaded for: a long, immense et reasoned derangement of all of the senses.
The ledge of knowLEDGE is nearby, we just need to approach it without fear.
A brief list of supporting materials:
Anechoic Chamber/Isolation Tank/Long Walks Nowhere/Boal’s Invisible Theater
The Theater and Its Double by Artaud/Mythologies by Barthes/Mount Analogue by René Daumal/The Society of the Spectacle & Against Cinema by Guy Debord/Notes on Cinematography by Robert Bresson/Bartleby The Scrivener by Melville/Voices by Porchia/Sites of Vision: The Discursive Construction of Sight in the History of Philosophy by David Kleinberg-Levin/U.G. Krishnamurti (not the famous one) – his books or his website
Roberto Rossellini’s historical films & the work of Santiago Álvarez/Robert Bresson//Guy Debord/Chris Marker/Andrei Tarkovsky
A Film Unfinished by Yael Hersonski
Chile, Obstinate Memory & Nostalgia for the Light by Patricio Guzmán
Shoah by Claude Lanzman
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Night and Fog by Alain Resnais
Television Delivers People by Richard Serra
Saragossa Manuscript by Wojciech Has
Warning Shadows by Arthur Robison
The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer
Peace by Kazuhiro Soda
Eternal Frame by Ant Farm & T.R. Uthco
Teorema/Salò by Pier Paolo Pasolini
With “instant everything,” Artificial Intelligence already has us cornered… presence is one present… and decantation. the process of “active rest,” when sediments are allowed to float down to the bottom of liquids to achieve some clarity.
A path is made by walking on it. — Zhuangzi
3. Picture-perfect… captive audiences… can we look into our blindness?
We seek and look, like Nasrudin, BUT only where there is light. Let’s go elsewhere!